When We Play Safe, We Play Small Reviewed by Momizat on . Move Out of Your Comfort Zone In this month’s column, Rod Burkert discusses embracing risk and a growth mindset. If you are unhappy with your practice for any r Move Out of Your Comfort Zone In this month’s column, Rod Burkert discusses embracing risk and a growth mindset. If you are unhappy with your practice for any r Rating: 0
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When We Play Safe, We Play Small

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

In this month’s column, Rod Burkert discusses embracing risk and a growth mindset. If you are unhappy with your practice for any reason, is it because you are playing it too safe … too small? Is your reluctance to take risks (which aren’t really risks) holding you back from reaching the next level … whatever that might be for you? Read on, learn from a seasoned BVFLS expert.

When We Play Safe, We Play Small: Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re unhappy with your practice for any reason, is it because you are playing it too safe … too small? Is your reluctance to take risks (which aren’t really risks) holding you back from reaching the next level … whatever that might be for you?

Danger and opportunity.

The Chinese symbol is the same for both.

Risk and reward.

There is no reward without some risk.

But sadly, as a profession, we generally believe that risk is bad.

So, playing it safe (or being “conservative”) rules most of what we do.

That’s a big-time paradox. Because we admire the owners of the businesses we value for the risk they took in creating them. Yet, we curry comfort within the safety-net that we create for our practices.

And when we play safe, we play small … and stay small; literally and figuratively.

Don’t believe me? Here are a dozen examples of where our playing safe/playing small shows up:

  1. Staying a generalist when being a specialist would allow us to better differentiate ourselves.
  2. Having one year of experience repeated 10 times instead of 10 years of experience.
  3. Being reluctant to try social media because some people we know said they tried it and it did not work for them.
  4. Not blogging out of fear that something we write will be used against us in litigation.
  5. Having a website that looks and sounds like every other BVFLS website.
  6. Using e-mail trailers that warn and bludgeon instead of ones that are friendly and engaging.
  7. Aggressively waiting for the phone to ring instead of aggressively marketing our expertise.
  8. Not speaking at or writing in forums where our audience of clients, prospects, and referral sources shows up.
  9. Following best practices instead of embracing those who are coming at the problem from a different direction.
  10. Offering only advice when clients desperately crave solutions.
  11. Striving for precision when accuracy would do.
  12. Charging fixed fees because value pricing is too hard for our services.

Here’s something close to home … my home: I was doing all those things. Until I changed.

Many people think I have it made. That I am living the dream. I, too, feel that way … NOW.

But early on, I was often depressed. I had bad bouts of anxiety—one of which landed me in the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack.

It took a long time to get over the fear that I would fail … that I would not find any work … that I could not live and work in the RV … that my friends were laughing at me … that I would have to show my face at a conference. That I would have to start all over.

But no risk, no reward. And I pushed through it. I realized that feeling scared was my next level of growth coming to get me.

That growth let me look at cost of capital for small businesses in a new way and co-develop the Implied Private Company Pricing Line with two colleagues.

That growth let me reinvent my practice and try new things, like my report review service and my practice builder coaching.

At age 67, I am feeling pretty darn good about the risk I took. The experience has allowed me to prioritize what I want to do and be, in my practice and my life, rather than following some traditional, more accepted path (that many unhappy people are on).

And the funny thing is that my practice and lifestyle have become my best conversation starters and most important differentiators for my audience of clients, prospects, and referral sources. Imagine that.

The ball is in your court.

What makes you different?

Where are you playing safe and small?

How can you stand out, personally and professionally?

In real life, change is inevitable. Change is uncomfortable. Therefore, it is inevitable that you will be uncomfortable.

I challenge you to be uncomfortable while you make your practice (and your life) extraordinary.

What can I help you with?

So what?

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”

Do not let fear of risk (and risk of fear) hold you back.

With respect to your practice and your life, what do you want to do?

What do you want to be known for?

And, when the time comes, what do you want to be remembered for?


Everyone has a different idea of what a successful practice is. The practice you want is personal because it is based on what “successful” means to you. I help practitioners focus on the strategies, tactics, tools, and tech to build/grow/scale their versions of successful practices. If you want some help with that, e-mail me at rod@rodburkert.com.

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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