THE BLOG

Caitlyn Jenner Proves Taking Risks Can Help Your Career

06/04/2015 08:08 EDT | Updated 06/04/2016 05:59 EDT
WillSelarep via Getty Images

In order to get anything in life that is valuable, you have to be willing to take a risk. A risk in love, a risk in money, a risk in even just your attitude every day.

Caitlyn Jenner took a phenomenal risk this week. I think it is paying off for her. At the very least it is educating people on gender identity and that itself is a huge payoff for someone like Caitlyn who has struggled with gender identity her entire life.

I know that she needed to be true to herself, so the risk of changing her identity was, in my opinion, the reward she wanted. She chose to do it in the public eye -- which is another risk. I'm guessing the reward was to elevate our understanding of gender issues and remove the stereotype that society has with men dressing in women's clothing.

Huge risk, and huge reward.

The average person is not willing to take a risk a tenth of that size, yet complain that life isn't fair, or the company is robbing them, etc. They want the reward, but are unwilling to take the risk.

What was the biggest risk you've taken with your professional life?

Caitlyn took a risk that could have cost her the money that comes with being a public figure. She had no idea if the public would accept her, if she would be a "celebrity" or not. The risk was worth it for her, even if the risk sent her into obscurity. For her the important piece of her risk was that she felt good with the decision, regardless of what the public thought.

I posted a statistic on several discussion boards on LinkedIn this week, saying that "According to Hannah Riley Bowles of Harvard University, men are four times more likely to negotiate their salary than women". I asked how many had done that. The vast majority to respond were women, and the vast majority had not negotiated anything when they were hired.

Why is that?

So I asked my husband, Warren, if he had had negotiated anything in his last job, and his answer was no as well. I asked him why, and his answer surprised me. He said he "had too much to lose". He needed the job.

Negotiate does not mean "I would like you to pay me $5,000 more per year" and they respond with "No. And we are no longer offering you this job either".

Yet Warren perceived the risk to negotiating was an all or nothing result.

What if he were to say "I would like you to pay me $5,000 more per year" and the company responded with "We are not able to at this point. However, after your probation period we are willing to discuss a raise". He still would have negotiated. He would have risked, and potentially got a raise in three months. Or not. But it is still worth it to try.

His risk was to try. The odds of them removing the offer of employment are pretty low, and even if they did, is that the type of company you want to work for, even short term?

Why do so many people perceive that negotiating anything is too much of a risk?

I heard from another friend, Terri, who said that she had asked for a higher salary in a job interview and they actually laughed at her when they said no. Ouch.

She didn't take the job. But she lost nothing by asking. She lost nothing by risking. If she was willing to move jobs, lose her seniority, and change her comfort zone, there needed to be a reward. That reward for her meant money. The reward wasn't there, so she made the decision she was comfortable with. She turned the job down.

Anytime I call a potential client to talk about coming in and working with their team, there is risk. There is risk they will hire a consultant that does nothing. It happens.

The reward is worth the risk (for the companies that hire me at least). There is typically a 10 to 1 reward to cost ratio.

If you have an employee that is toxic, it is costing you, your company, your company morale, your reputation and on and on. A consultant can come in and work with the toxic employee or recommend that you get rid of this person. Isn't that worth it?

What is the risk of doing nothing?

Which brings me to the point of my article. By not willing to risk you are setting yourself up to be in a situation that you are not happy in. You are potentially costing yourself not only money, but also life satisfaction.

The risk was worth it for Caitlyn, because either way, she is getting the reward she needed to live her life true to herself.

The risk was not worth it for Warren, and now he wonders what he left on the table (doubt is not a reward at all).

The risk was worth it for Terri. She found out in advance of taking a job that a company that would laugh at you is not a company she would want to work for.

Look at your risks. Are they worth it? Look at the risk of doing nothing. It is worth it?

I didn't think so.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Caitlyn Jenner