The American workforce must pay attention to a variety of conditions when it comes to their careers in an increasingly unpredictable world. Employees can’t afford to be blind to risk of layoffs, unpredictable bankruptcy or “quiet cutting.” Potential blind spots exist everywhere: AI taking over your job or disruption from global events like pandemics or natural disasters. Many employees are at a loss for how to avoid a job crisis. It’s easy to get so cozy in our positions that we forget tomorrow brings no guarantees, so risk management is important in order to safeguard your career.

See my story of Bill Eckstrom, founder and CEO of EcSell, who told me about an afternoon when the president of his company summoned him to a small conference room on the top floor of his office building for a quick meeting. “He fired me,” Bill remembers. “And I’ll never forget how his words just sucked the breath right out of me. I left the conference room in a dazed state, and I went home and curled up in my bed in the fetal position for three hours.” While he didn’t see the unsettling event coming, he ended up landing on his feet. Fortunately for him, the discomfort it brought him forever changed his life for the better. According to K. Scott Griffith, The Leader’s Guide to Managing Risk: A Proven Method to Build Resilience and Reliability, the secret lies in seeing, understanding and managing risk. He says there is a better way to gain control over your career, uncover the hidden pattern to why bad things happen and apply the science of preventing negative outcomes to your profession. Case in point. Bill Eckstrom learned that getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

How To Hit The Career Jackpot

Griffith, founder and managing partner of S G Collaborative Solutions, shared with me three common biases that blind us to risk in our careers. Griffith’s cautions, “Don’t be risk averse, be risk intelligent.” Many risks are worth taking, he insists, so take them. But be smart. “If you’re applying for a job or considering a promotion, you should ask yourself these three questions,” he advises. First, understand what the business needs; second, understand what you’re good at doing; and third, recognize what you’re passionate about and how doing it makes you happy or fulfilled. If you can align all three, congratulations! You’ve hit the career jackpot.”

On the other hand, he states that as you navigate through your career, you’ll discover the areas you may need to adjust or work to develop strengths and passions beyond your current job and focus. “Bad outcomes like getting laid off or a company filing bankruptcy are rarely black swan events. The signs are usually hiding in plain sight if we know where to look. Having a contingency plan in place is always a good idea if the business you’re in is uncertain. But don’t stress; change often results in new opportunities for growth, at any age. Starting over can be frightening, but no experience is ever wasted. We become the sum of our experiences and each new one adds value to our career.” Case in point. After getting fired, Bill Eckstrom believes the experience was the best thing that ever happened to him. He harnessed the crisis into success, founded his own company and wrote a book about how comfort can ruin your career while discomfort can grow it.

Understanding The Risks That Lie Ahead  

Without a crystal ball, how do we see and understand the risks ahead? Griffith recommends looking beyond the obvious to recognize patterns when you see them, including how businesses treat all employees, not just top performers and executives. “Great companies offer more than high salaries,” he adds. “Look for companies that align with your values and long-term goals and provide growth opportunities to all employees.”

He explains that career risks come from external or internal sources. External risk arises from conditions over which we have no control. Examples are changing market conditions, pandemics, burnout arising from the workload, environment and culture, discrimination, harassment and assault. Internal risks come from within ourselves. Examples are changing our minds about what kind of job we want, a lack of attention to our mental health, not having the right kind of education, burnout arising from pushing too hard from within or neglecting work-life balance. The bottom line, Griffith explains, is you cannot address risks you don’t see and understand. So, it’s important to keep yourself informed about your industry and stay up to date with what’s going on in the world around you. He suggests checking in with yourself to make sure you’re on the right course internally as well. Once you’re able to see and understand risk, you can adopt strategies to avoid them or become resilient or able to bounce back if things go wrong.

Three Career Risk-Proofing Strategies

Griffith says that there are three strategies you can use to future-proof your career and be ready for whatever challenges come your way next. 

  1. Don’t be a one-trick pony. “A great way to build resilience in your career is by being trained (or willing to learn) in more than one area. Invest in expanding your skill set and pursue your various interests. You never know when they might come in handy. For example, a lawyer laid off from a law firm lands on her feet working in HR at a large company. A mechanical engineer moves from designing aircraft parts to medical devices. A gaming programmer develops new AI software for an autonomous vehicle manufacturer.”
  2. Listen to your heart. “It’s important not to neglect the internal sources of risk to our careers. Building human resilience requires a focus on maintaining mental health and the ability to rise above attaching one’s self-esteem and self-worth to your job. You are worth more than the sum of your parts, including your job. Developing resilience in this capacity might require the help of a network of friends, a therapist or a coach and/or mentor.”
  3. Lean into collaboration. “Build a strong network and seek out professional advice from potential coaches and mentors. Silos arise in business because the world has become more specialized, but the best among us navigate the world by looking through multiple lenses. Siloes work until things go wrong. Responding to risk requires collaboration, and the most successful careers are built on being able to interact across the siloes.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: