What are you waiting for?
In the movie Tin Cup, Rene Russo pines that’s she’s never been with a guy who “went for it.” Linda Hart, turning in an outstanding performance as the former paramour of Rene’s current affections turns to her and deadpans, “Honey, he’s your guy.”
Notwithstanding the sheer male fantasy of the movie (i.e., one can sit at a driving range in West Texas, drink beer until the cows come home, and Rene Russo will not only stumble upon you but fall in love with you. As if.) there’s a message in the idea of going for it.
In the workplace many of us don’t go for it. We play it safe, “laying up” to use the golf euphemism (I promise no more golf asides today) in an attempt to ensure we don’t stick out in a negative way. We don’t want to get noticed for the wrong things. And not without cause we believe. Veterans in the office tell tales of careers cut short, promotions lost and opportunities missed because someone was noticed for the a mistake. Our friends from school weave tales of office despair they’ve heard in their firms (or heard “of” – few have seen actual examples). And so on. People don’t want to stick out opting instead to do no worse than anyone else.
That’s a hell of a vision isn’t it? We’re no worse than anyone else.
The truth is careers do get redirected in all sorts of ways. Mergers, divestitures, market changes, customer preferences, economic conditions, etc. And periodically individual people do dumb things vis a vis policy and are released. Yes, that happens.
But being hurt by going for it? By trying to do something well? Better than you ever have before? No, I don’t know anyone who’s been released for that.
Its ironic that so many complain about lack of opportunity, or advancement or recognition, but when you really analyze how they approach their work taking risks and trying to go for it are not in their bag of tricks. Approaching work conservatively with the idea of never making mistakes will probably not get you fired either, so if your end game is “don’t get fired” then maybe you don’t need to change a thing.
But if you, like others, aspire to more you’re going to have to make some adjustments. You can’t have extraordinary results without taking extraordinary chances. Even in the golfer’s game there are risks that shouldn’t be taken: anyone who’s ever finished 18 holes can think of a time or two they bit off more than they could chew. But just like the workplace, they can also remember the times they took gambles in return for a payoff and make things work out.
They went for it.
You can too.
Want to score in the game of work? Sometimes you just gotta take the shot.