Begin Boldly: A book review by Bob Morris

Begin Boldly: How Women Can Reimagine Risk, Embrace Uncertainty, and Launch a Brilliant Career
Christie Hunter Arscott
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (August 2022)

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

Christie Hunter Arscott is a passionate as well as eloquent advocate of taking calculated risks early when preparing for a career or after having embarked on one. It may also be of decisive benefit if and when a career needs to be redirecteded. Why?

“My research shows that risks can have compounding returns, so the sooner you start, the better. Imagine a small snowball at the top of a mountain. [A very young Warren Buffett once observed a collapsed snowman falling down a hill after heavy snow in Omaha.] If you push it off, it will get bigger and bigger with every turn. This represents the compounding returns of taking risks early in your career. Imagine if you pushed the same snowball off the mountain halfway down. Would it gain as much moment? Would it have as much time to grow larger? Probably not. If you want great returns, the time to start taking risks is now.” To this day, Warren Buffett asserts that that moment on the hill was an epiphany for him: it revealed the power of compound interest. Of course, that principle can produce results for better or worse.

In Part I, Arscott introduces her “Risk-Reward-Refine-Repeat’ formula that can help accelerate personal growth and professional development; then explains HOW to “take strategic risks boldly”; and in Chapter 3, she explains HOW to build risk resilience.

Then in Part II, Arscott shifts her attention to explaining HOW to cultivate connectivity through curiosity; how to use curiosity “as a tool of influence”;  and then explains in Chapter 6 HOW to “harness curiosity to “optimize your time investment.”

Note the references to HOW. Arscott has mastered the skills of empiricism and pragmatism. She is determined to understand what works, what doesn’t, and then share what she has learned with as many people — men as well as women — as possible.

Parts III and IV focus on “The Courageous Mindset” and then “The Agile Mindset.” Some of her most valuable material is provided within these chapters (7-12) as she develops in greater depth the process of reimagining risk, embracing uncertainty, and launching (or re-launching) a career that is “brilliant.”

Many of those who read this book already know how uncertainty can raise doubts. When risk is involved and a difficult decision must be made, answering these two questions can be helpful: “What will probably happen if do this?” and “What will probably happen if I don’t?” Hence the importance of the aforementioned “Risk-Reward-Refine-Repeat” formula (See Pages 14-23).

Let’s say the situation changes after you make that decision. Adjustments must be made. Arscott: “Many of life’s greatest opportunities and rewarding moments are plot twists in your journey. To be truly open to the risks inherent in these plot twists, you must embrace the unexpected…Agility, flexibility, and adaptability in the face of uncertainty, change, and new opportunities will be critical to your ability to embrace adventure and risk to build a career that you love.” (See Pages 121-15). Love, perhaps, but I personally prefer a profound sense of joy when achieving peak performance, especially in stressful circumstances that are volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

Jack Dempsey once said, “Champions get up when they can’t.”

Here are three final points of my own:  With all due respect to the significance of gender-specific issues, the material in this book could also be of substantial value to men as well as to women; also, with only minor modification, the information, insights, and counsel that Arscott provides could be relevant to relaunching as well as to launching a career.

What’s my third point? As is true of almost everything else in life, you will get about as much out of this book as you are willing and able to invest in absorbing, digesting, and then applying what you learn from it. You already know WHAT is most important to your personal growth and professional development. And you probably know WHY. Christie Hunter Arscott explains HOW to accelerate that process.



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