How Career Risks Can Pay Off In Unexpected Ways

Years ago, a friend of mine ran for Congress in Connecticut.  He was very young and a heavy underdog. Certainly, more than a few people thought he was excessively bold. To run, he left his relatively high paying job and spent his savings. He was not from a rich family so this was real money. In leaving his job, he also signaled to his employer that he was not committed to the organization. Ultimately, he was soundly beaten. Sounds like he made a career mistake by taking such a risk. Nope. This trek ultimately lead to high level government jobs and high paying private sector jobs. 
Here’s what happened: he performed well during the campaign. Expectations were low.  He not only beat expectations in actual votes but also in how debated, dealt with reporters, and campaigned. Indeed, when I met with him after the election to applaud him on his great performance, he reminded me that he had been beaten easily.
Nonetheless, he basically had a three month personal public relations campaign that exposed him to high level officials in the state, in his national party, and to big money types. While I’m sure many people thought he was foolish for running at such a young age, I’m sure some – and likely those that mattered to him – thought he was courageous. Due to the national political party noticing him, he ended up getting some enormously high status government jobs, followed by some enormously high paying private jobs.
The big risk when he decided to run for Congress was that he would lose. He did lose. And, look what happened.  That’s the lesson for everyone considering a big risk.  Sometimes,  success will occur in unexpected ways.