Big results usually begin with someone taking a big risk.
We often get the results we want after plenty of mistakes, failed attempts and tough lessons. While most people want big results, not everyone is willing to accept the risks that come along with achieving them. Even fewer people will take these risks in the face of discouragement.
The leadership at my last employer fostered a risk-averse culture, but we were still expected to deliver extraordinary outcomes. We essentially had to guarantee financial results to get any support for novel ideas. It was really backwards and stifling. I’m tempted to blame my lack of risk taking while I was there on the culture, but it wouldn’t be completely true.
I didn’t take enough risks because I was afraid of failing. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to get chastised in front of my peers or told I was an idiot (unfortunately both were possible). In the end it didn’t really matter because I played it safe and got fired anyway.
In hindsight, I should’ve shared more ideas and taken more risks. Not so my future there would’ve ended differently, but so I could be richer from the experience.
1. Playing it safe is harmful to everyone
When we allow external forces to beat back our creativity we lose a bit of ourselves. Each idea we bury gets thrown in the “what if” pile and eats at us from the inside. Wouldn’t it be better to let it out, fully express our ideas and embrace what we’re made of? When we hold back our ideas, even the ones that seem risky, we also forfeit their potential for others. We rob the world of benefitting from our brilliance. Our employees and customers miss out when we hide our best.
2. Taking risks is not careless or reckless
Executing well thought-out plans and being ok with the result is not risky. It’s bold, courageous and necessary. In this era, it’s risky to play it too safe. And since we’re not talking about jumping off a cliff here, is there ever any real danger? Maybe our bank account or pride takes a hit, but that’s temporary. Julien Smith has a lot to say about this in his free book, The Flinch. I say let’s take chances, embrace the outcomes, move on, and repeat.
3. Growth comes from taking risks
We grow most from conflict, whether external (with other people) or internal (with ourselves). Instead of worrying about failure that may never happen, let’s build our confidence by throwing ourselves into experiences. We should cherish learning from the consequences of risk, whether success or failure. Let’s run toward opportunities to try, knowing we may fail, so that someday, our biggest, most important ideas will succeed.
Maybe I saved myself from some humiliation at my last job by not taking risks, but maybe not. I let discouragement from others suppress my ideas. But that’s all on me, no one else. It’s on all of us to grow our confidence to think bigger than big. Because what if our crazy ideas actually work? What if we pull off something amazing in the face of dissent? That would be pretty cool.
Question: What are you allowing to hold back your brilliance? What small steps can you take TODAY to change that?