Some of us are more comfortable taking risks than others. That is not a judgement, more a statement. I have known people who would throw caution to the wind at the drop of a hat, and others who wouldn’t even risk taking a phone call. Some of it is learned behavior, risking and losing then experiencing how it is handled by that individual or others around them. If you risk and fail, then hear about it for ten thousand years what would EVER make you want to risk again? If you asked for help then had it held over your head in every conversation since, then why risk? Others let the criticism, reminders, and thoughtless comments roll right off their back. They have girded their loins against what anyone else says or thinks, so risking is no big deal as long as they can handle it.
Somewhere along the path of life we all learn how we handle risk, how we avoid risk, where the line is between our comfort zone and the great beyond. The challenge with risking is that it is choosing between a known versus unknown kind of thing. Risk requires that we understand the difference between where we are now and where this decisions might take us, which is never a clean black and white line. Risk often means choosing between different shades of grey, hues of white and the all too murky world of black versus negro, versus midnight or charcoal. What might seem like a good idea or tolerable for one person may seem like jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge to someone else.
Risk may involve or impact the lives of others. Be it family, friends, colleagues or our community, taking a risk has impact, often serious consequences for all involved. Just because we are comfortable taking the leap DOES NOT mean everyone involved has that same mindset. As a leader it is our job to understand how this risk, change, and the unknown will be received and we then have the ability to communicate and mitigate the impact the people will experience. As the leader we also have the ultimate responsibility for the impact and outcomes. If it goes bad, we have to deal with it and never pass the buck. A great leader knows how to be responsible for their actions and decisions, no excuses, no deflections.
Risk has the power to astonish, change and impact lives beyond what we can imagine. It takes courage, forethought and a willingness to listen to the people involved. Before we jump it’s usually a good idea to check out our equipment and know the people who have our back. We may have to drag a few people kicking and screaming down the path of process, it is how we do that while listening and showing compassion that makes us someone they will follow again into the future. Geena Davis is right, when we choose not to risk we are actually risking everything.