[June 9, 2017] My grandmother was fond of telling me to “try new things;” otherwise I “would live to regret my life.” She was right and had put her mind onto something few think about and that is concerning risks as essential for those who successfully lead ourselves to do good things. One powerful trait appears in all great leaders and that is risk-taker.
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” – Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Priest and Scriptural Theologian
We learn from taking risks (win or lose), not from playing it safe. Superb, otherwise unforeseen opportunities come from risk-taking. The common view is that taking risks is dangerous, unwise, and doesn’t pay off. This should be rejected since risks are actually opportunities to do good things, not paths to failure or disappointment.
Smart, calculated risk taking is, however, necessary and is tied closely to good decision making. Basic common sense should apply here also. Deliberate decision making is generally not practiced and can result in emotion or impatience intervening; leading to regret. Using logic can help us avoid such a trip.
Anything important in life should be pursued with care, as opposed to haphazardly. This means doing our homework in advance, understanding the importance of prudent caution, and educating ourselves on following through. Intellectual laziness and moral corruption can keep us from visualizing what is really needed and so it is best to beware of the trap of the status quo.
Good leaders are particularly aware of the fact that success follows those who are willing to step out of their comfort zones. That is what separates the good leader from others; someone willing to move towards and overcome tough obstacles that lie in their way. Leaders are judged by how well they assess and prevail to achieve goals they have chosen.
There are those who prefer to stay in their comfort zones and yet are the backbone of their organization. Respectfully, this is perfectly acceptable … but that individual, as part of a team, will never be a leader in their own right. Being a leader is hard work, risky by its very nature, and often comes with failure regularly. Our job as leaders is to learn from those failures and pass along lessons learned to those who follow us.
Winston Churchill once famously said, in the darkest of times for England during World War II, “never, never, never give up.” He was talking about the risks of being willing to stand up to tyranny and putting your life on the line. No one could say it better about taking risks.
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