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I’ve noticed a phenomenon within quite a few of my
clients. They tell me that they want to transform
their careers and to create a career they love. But all of their actions are leading them to the same path that they’ve
always been on.
Are they suffering from Albert Einstein’s definition of
insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different
I suspect not. These
are intelligent, sane people. But it’s
got me thinking about why some people are more open to making a change than
This week, I’m going to take a quick dive into areas which I
think are at play with these clients: attitude to risk and status quo bias.
Attitude to risk
I definitely err towards being a risk taker. I’ve always loved to tinker with the status
quo. What makes me that way?
In StrengthsProfile, one of my top strengths is Optimism
meaning I expect things to turn out for the best, and one of my weaknesses is
Adherence which is following the rules.
In DISC behavioural profiling, my C (Compliance) is low
which means that I’m more inclined to take risks.
My life experiences have taught me to live in the moment and
And my personal life circumstances give me the freedom to
take risks in the knowledge that I’m not exposing anyone else to the
consequences (well, only my husband but he’s amenable to my behaviour!).
It’s not surprising, then, that I’ve been experimental and
embraced change in my career. In my
“employed” career, I followed several different paths – HR consultant, exec
recruiter, managing director, business development, to name a few. And I trained as a coach and set up my own
business with relatively little to go on other than my gut instinct that it was
the right thing to do and would work out for the best.
And it’s turned out well.
Whilst I encourage you to take a more scientific and
structured approach to creating a career you love, I understand that some people
are more inclined than others to be experimental and trust their gut instinct.
Your own personal attitude to risk taking will be based upon
similar factors such as your personality, behavioural preferences, strengths
and personal circumstances. This is why
I always encourage my clients to start with a phase of self-discovery.
Once you understand your own attitude to risk and what
factors it’s based upon, you can really start to leverage those factors to make
a change rather than let them get in the way.
Status Quo Bias
Status quo bias comes into play when you prefer things to
stay the same by doing nothing or you stick to a decision because you’ve
already made it. It is linked to loss
aversion which is the concept that people are more willing to take risks to
avoid a loss rather than to make a gain.
Status Quo Bias can be driven by different things:
In coaching, these are similar to what we would call
limiting beliefs which are generally considered to be unhelpful. If you believe that you are prone to status
quo bias, I would love you to challenge your thinking. Here are some questions to get you started:
What to do now
If you want to make a change but are finding it difficult to
move towards it:
Finally, I’d like to reference Samuelson & Zeckhauser,
1988 and Kahneman & Tversky, 1979 for their work on loss aversion and
status quo bias. There’s some extra
reading for you if you’re interested!
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