Action vs. Inaction

By nature, people tend to be risk-averse — if they can avoid getting into a situation where they realize that a mistake has been made, they will do that.

Oftentimes, it is seen that action carries the greater risk. As Marianne Cantwell from Free-Range Humans pointed out in the comments of the post Risk and the Job Search, “… action is viewed as a risk, but, in line with the frog-in-a-boiling-pan analogy, inaction is often just as risky…”

What causes people to choose inaction (or tame action)? Life circumstances certainly come into play, but I also think some of that paralysis may lie in a belief that if you are not an expert in a given area, you shouldn’t venture down that path.

But consider this quote I read a couple months ago from a post on Daniel Pink’s blog:

“A study of the top fifty game-changing innovations over a hundred-year period showed that nearly 80 percent of those innovations were sparked by someone whose primary expertise was outside the field in which the innovation breakthrough took place.”

The takeaway from that quote is this: don’t necessarily limit yourself just because you don’t think you have enough education, knowledge, or experience to make meaningful contributions in a field that holds your interest or that you dabble in as a hobby. Being more of an outsider can actually be an advantage because you would have a unique perspective from those who are “classically trained” in a given profession.

In the effort to minimize the risk of making a mistake, would you cut yourself off from a potential path because you aren’t an expert in a given area? Could you actually be getting in your own way of finding the right career for yourself?

Now, of course, it’s important to not do anything fool-hardy. Instead, be realistic, both about your current job situation and the extent of your abilities and interests in areas that may lie outside of your existing vocation.

How do you find that balance between action and inaction to control the risks in job seeking?

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