by Jeff Chenoweth

Next week… I’m going to make a quiche, simply because I have no idea how to make one.  In fact, I don’t know how to cook much of anything that:
a) takes more than 5-10 minutes to make on a stovetop and
b) doesn’t ends up doused in Frank’s Red Hot.

There’s a reason I’m deciding to transition from grilled cheese extraordinaire to quiche novice; and that’s because it’s an opportunity for me to learn something new, and also, an opportunity to take an intelligent risk.

Reid Hoffman, Cofounder and Chairman of LinkedIn, refers to “intelligent risks” in his book, The Start-up of You.  He says that entrepreneurs face risks daily and encourages assessing them by asking questions like:

  • No matter what happens, can you deal with the final outcome?
  • Is it as risky as you actually think it is?
  • Are there options to change what you’re doing, or are you locked in?
  • Are you confusing risk with uncertainty?
  • How will this risk affect you later in life?

In my case, making a quiche is an intelligent risk. 

When all is said and done, the worst-case scenario is that I make a really bad quiche.  If that happens, I’m going to end up losing a small amount of money spent on all the ingredients, wasting 45-minutes to an hour on prep time, and disappointing my poor girlfriend who will know that dinner is looking a lot like Ramen again. But that’s all.

For my first attempt, I’m not paying $500 to sign up for a quiche competition and I’m certainly not coordinating a dinner party that could give my friends and family the fuel to laugh about my quiche at gatherings for years to come.  I’ve got a nice test environment, the risk is very manageable, and there’s a good possibility that I’ll learn a thing or two about cooking no matter what the final outcome is.

So why am I rambling about a quiche?  Because being a successful entrepreneur depends on being adaptable and creative.  Your ability to learn new things and consistently evolve is key.  Trying new things, whether personally or professionally, involves a certain amount of time and risk management, and though that can be uncomfortable, it’s necessary.

That being said, I challenge you to learn something new, even if it’s something small, every week.  Take an intelligent risk like:

  • Making a quiche (not for the first time you’re inviting your significant other’s parents over for dinner)
  • Changing the oil in your car (with a friend or relative that can guide you through the process)
  • Installing Windows 8 on your uncle’s computer (even though you’re a total Mac guy)
  • Attempting to parallel park (not on a busy street)
  • Writing a poem or a short story (hang it up on your own fridge instead of the fridge at the office)
  • Asking a friend to teach you how to drive a stick shift  (preferably someone who’s patient and doesn’t mind you grinding their transmission a bit)

Taking intelligent risks and learning new things in your day-to-day life will make it easier to identify risks worth taking in your professional life.  You’ll be constantly challenged and who knows, you might end up finding a new niche, or career path, born from a seemingly abstract idea you decided to try.  Also, notice that most of the examples above entail consulting others.  You now have a fantastic excuse to network with, ask questions of, and obtain an outside perspective from other entrepreneurs and people you wouldn’t normally find at home or in the office.

So go find this week’s quiche… whatever it may be… And make it.

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