Every once in a while I get to thinking that it's time to make certain types of changes in my life. Sometimes they're personal changes; sometimes they're professional changes. I'm sure I'm not alone in this thought.

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What happens when you get to a point when you feel there's nothing to lose? Sounds kind of stark doesn't it?

Yet, it happens every single day somewhere around the world and in the United States. People committing suicide, people killing someone they feel has pushed them to the limit... that kind of indiscriminate thinking helps no one and the consequences of acting on something like that don't end well for anyone.

Luckily, I never get to that point. Every once in a while I start thinking about having nothing to lose when it comes to my business. Sometimes things aren't going as smoothly as I'd like it to.

The thing about being an independent consultant is that there are often long gaps between projects. You market, but you're not always sure you're marketing properly, or if your message is reaching the right people, if anyone. You start to question how you're doing things, do you have the proper call to action, or is the problem that no one really cares what you do, especially if they're not in the market for it at that time.

That's a marketing issue though, and not a life issue. I've been lucky to not have anything like that happen. However, when I was a hospital director, there were times when I'd have an employee come to me with an issue and say they felt like they had nothing to lose.

The problem with most people is that the "nothing to lose" discussion is often accompanied with way too much emotion. Emotions can be very hard to control; I know that one first hand. They're really hard when you're not expecting something to happen that does, or when something happens that you knew was coming but still weren't prepared for.

With many older couples, "nothing to lose" often translates into "nothing to live for". It's amazing how many husband and wives pass away within days or weeks of each other, especially when the surviving spouse wasn't ill.

That's known as "failure to thrive", which manifests itself in many different ways, such as folks who stop eating so that their life will end; sometimes it's intentional, sometimes it's not.

Anyway, an employee would present something to me because, believe it or not, I'm a pretty good listener. For me, business may be business, but there's also a time for compassion; every good leader needs to learn this one.

One of the best techniques for getting at someone's problem is to ask questions, which also proves you've been listening. I've found that often, when I ask the question "What are you going to do", you'll either get "I don't know" or you'll get some kind of answer, sometimes the wrong one, followed by "I've got nothing to lose."

The truth is that "nothing to lose" can be pretty risky, no matter what it concerns. Every once in a while it's not, but at other times it can lead to catastrophic results, as I showed above. Although I usually hate giving straight up advice, especially on personal matters, whenever I hear that phrase I figure it's time to show what could be lost if it's critical enough.

For instance, I like to ask who else might be affected by the action. If children are involved you want to see if the person considered them. Maybe it involves parents or siblings. It could affect livelihood, finances and the like.

Any time "nothing to lose" is used for going in a negative direction, it almost never turns out bad. That's what I've dealt with most of the time.

On the other hand, if "nothing to lose" is going in a positive direction, then I've always been one to encourage that kind of thinking, even if it might be drastic. I always believe that positive action is better than negative action, because positive action tends to bring positive things, even if they're not the things one was expecting.

Thus, any time I can, I'm always looking to help people turn "nothing to lose" into something positive, even if that positive action is to take a step back and think more about their situation. I believe that sometimes it takes baby steps to get to success.

As for taking risks if someone feels there's nothing to lose... well, check out the video below where I respond to that particular question...


That's my thought on the matter; what's yours?

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