Women are not exactly known for risk-taking. Especially in the wake of the economic recession, women’s supposed restraint has even been lauded as studies ask whether or not the financial crisis would have occurred had more women been in positions of power in the financial world.
But the idea that women are biologically risk-averse is a myth. In fact, women’s tendency to take fewer risks than men is much less rooted in nature than it is in the way we’re nurtured. But no matter why women avoid taking risks, doing so may be hurting us in the long run. And many wildly successful women have spoken out about why women need to face their fears and take more chances.
Here are seven reasons why risk-taking is essential to women’s success, according to the very women who have benefited from putting it all on the line.
1. Great, otherwise unforeseen opportunities often come from risk-taking.
We tend to view risk-taking negatively, often regarding it as dangerous and even unwise. But while some risks certainly don’t pay off, it’s important to remember that some do.
2. Taking risks shows confidence and helps you stand out.
Taking a risk is also a great opportunity to stand out and to present yourself as a leader, not a follower satisfied with the status quo.
3. We learn from risks — and those lessons may lead us on an important, new path.
But beyond the external opportunities and recognition risk-taking can bring, it also provides an opportunity for internal growth.
4. Success won’t fall in your lap — you have to pursue it.
But beyond being personally or professionally beneficial, taking risks may be a necessary step in actively pursuing success.
5. You don’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe.
Risk-taking won’t only potentially benefit the career-path you’re already on — it may actually open you up to a world of possibilities you have yet to consider.
6. Embracing risk-taking helps you overcome a fear of failure.
Arianna Huffington has long identified the fear of failure as a major roadblock to success. She told Business Insider last year:
We women are a little more risk-averse because whenever you launch something there’s a big chance it’s not going to work. And we have a bigger problem with failure … [Women deal with] what I call the obnoxious roommate living in our head that constantly puts us down, doesn’t want us to fail because we become identified with our successes and failures.
But failure, Huffington insists, isn’t the end of one’s journey to success, but usually the beginning.
7. Taking a risk doesn’t mean doing so haphazardly.
While risk taking can clearly be personally and professionally beneficial, it doesn’t occur in a vacuum, either. People don’t benefit from risks without preparing to take them and educating themselves on the possible fall-out.