Positive Risk-Taking: Say Yes Before You're Ready

In your decision making, do you pause before accepting a new opportunity?


Kat Cole—COO and president, North America at FOCUS Brands—shares decision-making insights to help leaders leverage what they have with what they need to succeed. In this video, Kat talks about her experience opening her first restaurant in Australia. Not only was she a mere 19 years old and had never left the state of Florida, but when asked to fly to Australia for this opportunity, she responded with a resounding, "Yes!"

In your decision-making, do you pause before accepting new tasks? Kat reveals the benefits of positive risk-taking by saying yes before you're ready. Saying yes opens up the opportunity for you to stretch your "hustle muscle." Not only can you learn as you go, but most importantly, Kat says you can fill the gap between what you have and what you need to succeed.

The importance of positive risk-taking is in first saying yes, but making sure that you close the all-important gap between what you have and what you need to fulfill your goals. And using the resources you have while identifying and obtaining the resources or skills you don't have is essential to achieving your objective. Kat calls this "doing the work." 

So I strongly believe that a bias for action and a bias for risks, saying yes, before you even have all the skill sets or the things you need, is a hallmark of successful people. And this showed up. I was 19 years old. It was my two and a half year mark, almost, into working at Hooters. I was asked by the corporate office to be a member of the team that would go open a new restaurant in Australia. I had never been on a plane. I did not have a passport. I'd never opened a restaurant. I was simply a good employee that had trained other employees in my little store in Jacksonville, Florida, and in other restaurants in and around Jacksonville, Florida.

I said absolutely. It didn't cross my mind that I didn't have a passport and I've never been on a plane, and I hadn't been out of the States. So what's interesting is my bias was not to think first of all the reasons I couldn't. My bias was to say yes, because that sounds awesome, because why would I not say yes as a 19-year-old being asked to go to Australia.

But I very quickly learned, when others heard that story, how different others would have viewed that opportunity. Of course, I then bought my first plane ticket and flew to Miami and got my passport in 24 hours and did as much research as I could on Australia and the culture so I could go and open the restaurant, and I left and went and was a part of that team for almost 40 days. We successfully opened the restaurant and I came back.

What's particularly interesting is that I said yes, but a lot of people could have said yes. But I had the hustle muscle to go figure it out. So I said yes, but what if I didn't do the research and didn't know I could get my passport in a day, and didn't have the willingness to leave work that day to go to Miami and get everything and stand in line?

So I always am uncomfortable with my statement, "Say yes before you're ready," being left alone. It should be, say yes before you're ready, but then you'd better had the hustle muscle to close the gap between what you have and what you need.

It's those two things together that really advance people meaningfully, that create step change. So you say yes before you know everything, but you've got the hustle muscle to do the work, to figure it out, to learn, to ask questions, to be willing to fail all along the way, and before you know it, you have a series of firsts. Then you look back and go, "Wow. I've done all these really cool things," because I was comfortable with it being a first, but I was willing to do the hard work required to make sure that when I showed up, I could show up as best as possible.

Kat Cole

Kat Cole’s twitter handle reads “Connected-Creative-Conscious-Community building Capitalist, Biz Advisor, MBA, Coffee-loving Chronic Learner” – this not only describes her as a person, it describes the philosophies she applies to busi...

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