Thursday, April 7, 2016

5 Dares That Will Inspire Your Career

As a kid, you may have played the "truth or dare game" where you tried to coerce your friends into doing something ridiculous for laughs. Whether the dare was accepted or not most times depended on their courage and lack of wisdom. Fast forward to adulthood, the game of "truth or dare" takes a serious tone when placed in the context of your career. 

While it still takes a level of courage to meet the challenge of a dare, this kind can take you further than you thought possible. Daring to complete your education goals, strive for a promotion, change careers, or start your own business, takes a calculated and coordinated effort wrapped in self awareness, drive, discipline, and confidence. The complexity lies not in others daring you to execute some ridiculous antic, but in being truthful about what you want, then daring to go after it.

Career Breakthrough is a personal research project where I strive to uncover the formula for success from those who are making an impact on the world. These answers may not be new or different, just simply a perspective to consider. Read the candid responses and ponder how to set in motion the breakthrough you have been waiting for. 

Meet Becky Blalock, author of "DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge", a former c-suite executive, known thought leader, and powerful confidence builder. After publishing her book, Becky continues her journey to accomplishing her dreams, and while she has dared others to be bold in their pursuits of excellence, she too is still daring to take her career to new heights. In my exchange with Becky, she shared real wisdom about life, career, and purpose. What I appreciate about her is that she is walking the same road as we are, just at a different stage of the career marathon. A well-known executive, Ms. Blalock could hang her coat and rest on her accomplishments, knowing that she has done well. Instead, she chooses to push forward, traveling, lecturing, consulting, coaching, sharing, giving, and learning. 

What Does a Career Dare Look Like?

Your career is not a 50-yard dash, but a marathon to building a portfolio of skills, accomplishments, and personal rewards over a lifetime. How you make it to the finish line depends on how you manage your fears and whether you have the gumption to dare yourself to excel.

Before you embark on a career dare, consider this:
  • Daring to be truthful about where you are and what you want takes real honesty: Make time for introspection and take ownership for the decisions that got you here. 

  • Daring to reach your dream takes courage and action: Courage to face your truth, and action to design the life you really want 

From the wisdom Becky imparted, I uncovered 5 "dares" that we all can use to help reach a career breakthrough:

1) Dare to liberate yourself from your career path. Career transitions are becoming the norm, especially for those leaving more traditional roles to capitalize on the higher salaries the technology sector can provide. Becky came to her first "Aha" moment when she realized that her career trajectory was not going to deliver the goals she had for career and dared to get out of her comfort zone. "Future" your role by understanding the trends in the industry and where your career could potentially end up if you stay on the current path. 

2) Dare to leave your comfort zone. Career success starts with a growth mentality. Not only should you look to expand your skills portfolio in your current role, you should also seek out opportunities that can bring you closer to your career goals. This will only happen if you are open to getting out of your comfort zone. We all experience some level of apprehension when it comes to doing something new or potentially risky, but it is those who are "BRAVE" (Being Ready to Accept Various Experiences) that capitalize on the opportunity to grow their career.

3) Dare to lead by example. I have found that anyone can be a leader, it just takes a conscious effort to be the change you want to see in the world. You can lead from anywhere and at any level if you are willing to step up and exhibit the behaviors you are looking for in others. Most often employees are selected for opportunities based on leadership skills. Start by being the example, then follow through with developing those qualities that set you apart.

4) Dare to listen to others. How many leaders have you seen that talked more than they listened? Were they able to address the issues or challenges that caused concern? Probably not. Listening provides a huge opportunity to connect with people and really "hear" what they are trying to communicate. Active listening is an important skill to develop and aids in effectively problem solving issues. Becky's second "Aha" moment was realized when she found herself leaning on others' expertise to lead in a new area of the organization. Not having all the answers and leveraging her employees to solve problems allowed her to deliver real value to her team and the organization.

5) Dare to live with purpose. I asked Becky what success meant to her. She responded with, "living life with purpose and integrity". Of all the "dares", this one is my favorite because it frames your world and everything else comes into focus. When you are not afraid to be "you", you can freely pursue your goals. It is important to protect your values and dreams from the ridicule that others can knowingly (and unknowingly) inflict upon you. Having the courage to continue on a path that is right for you gives you the ability to live with real purpose and let your light shine It is in this space that "work" does not feel like work, and what appears to be the "perfect job" is really just a job that is perfect for you.

What is next for Ms. Blalock? She is has built a very successful consulting company called Advisory Capital that focuses on the IT and utility industries and works with global clients such as Accenture and Tech Mahindra. She has taken the concepts from her book DARE and built a practice around speaking and facilitating workshops that help women succeed in the workplace as well as educating leaders on what they can do to create a more rewarding workplace for all employees.  

Becky blogs on various topics related to the concepts in her book "DARE" and these blogs can be found on her website at  

Becky Blalock
In addition, Becky serves on the advisory board for several corporations: The Electric Power Research Institute, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and the Woodruff Arts Foundation.  Still in learning mode, Becky is currently pursuing a cyber security certification from the Georgia Institute of Technology. A real inspiration for all of us, Becky keeps DARING to make all her dreams come true!

What will you DARE to accomplish this year? Message me at to tell me about your 2016 Career Dare!

Stacey Rivers is an author, mom, wife and IT Talent Professional. Find her current book "50 Essential Tips To Getting & Keeping The Right Job" on Amazon. 

For a look at her upcoming book "What Your Interviewer Won't Tell You", check out a preview here.