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Take a risk – change! – and discover more strength within

PATH STEPS dreamstime_m_41286189I was interviewing a client for a speech on leadership when he interrupted my latest question and asked, “So what about you? Are you a risk-taker?” 

I stopped typing, not often on the end of someone else’s line of questioning.

“I guess I haven’t thought about it before. Why do you ask?”

“You just set down an open water bottle next to your laptop, right where I’m talking with my hands and could easily knock it over. That tells me you’re a risk-taker.”

Hmm. Was he right?

For several years now I’d been taking more risks in business: Traveling to international conferences to network and learn without colleagues as companions. Signing up for a series of East Coast seminars to study and master the art of professional speechwriting. And more recently, daring to enter competitions where only the crème de la crème of speechwriters contend.

Each risk – albeit uncomfortable – led to change.

Later this year, I’ll be taking yet another (but rather exciting) risk: Having lunch with the European chairman of a global manufacturing company who’s flying to the U.S. with a stopover in Dayton to meet his speechwriter face-to-face. Since March we’ve collaborated only virtually, via phone, on three speeches he delivered to inspire his management teams from around the world.

A mentor once told me: “Nothing happens if you stay in your office.” If you want to change something in your life, you must do something different. You must face your fears. You must take a risk.

Writer Noelle Hancock, inspired by the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, chose to face her fears and take bold risks. For a year, Hancock did one scary thing every day and chronicled the highlights in her 2011 memoir, “My Year with Eleanor.” (If you have fears to face and need the courage to get started, I highly recommend this book.)

Risk compels change. And that change gives you strength to take the next risk, which compels even more change.

Eleanor said it best:

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.”

So look fear in the face. Stare it down.

Take a step. See it’s not dreadful.

And when you do, you will change. And you will grow. And you will discover more strength within so you can face yet another fear – take yet another risk – to change and to grow once again tomorrow. ###


Teresa Zumwald is a speechwriter, speech coach, communication consultant, author, and the owner and president of Zumwald & Company, LLC. She’s facilitating “Creating and Communicating a Compelling Message: A New Twist on the Old ‘Elevator Speech’” during the small business round tables at the WiBN Conference for Women Sept. 16.

This post was originally published Sept. 14, 2015, in the WiBN Weekly Newsletter, Monday Morning Moments, from Your Better Business Bureau.