Serving leaders take many risks in the pursuit of a larger purpose. Why do so few accomplish what they want in life? I think it’s because they don’t risk being all they can be. They spend their lives trying to be someone they are not. Risk takes many forms. Let me share several ideas to help take the risk out of your life.
The first thing is risk can’t be avoided. Risk is always present. It’s what makes you feel alive. It’s that sense of exhilaration. Risk is that little voice telling you something might be wrong or you are about to enter a dangerous situation. When I’ve worked with people who work in dangerous roles, I have found they are very intuitive when it comes to evaluating the risks in a given situation. It’s almost like having a sixth sense that helps you make better decisions.
This is why Special Forces and first responders spend so much time in training and drilling. It helps them make less risky decisions. More accurately, it provides them many different options when put in a life threatening situation. So how can you take the risk out of your decisions? Learn your limitations. When I was younger, I was put in a life threatening situation. Because of my training I was able to come up with several possible scenarios very quickly then choose the right decision that ultimately saved my life. If you want to reduce risk you must develop your intuitive decision making skills the same way you develop your other capabilities. Learn to practice when in less threatening situations.
By the way, you can learn almost anything you want in life. One of the biggest reasons people are put at risk is because they have not prepared for other possibilities. The best prepared person typically does better than the person who is not prepared. I think it’s easy to see exceptional people through the performance, not all the preparation. Most great performers are excellent at practicing what they do well. They spend countless hours preparing so they are ready when it counts. I plan to have a guest blogger share several great ways and resources that can help you to develop your unique strengths and gifts at any stage of your life.
Second, if you want to reduce risk it is critical to learn how to trust your instincts. Invest time in better understanding what your biases are and how they might be changing the way you see things. We all have certain biases. People who want to minimize risk in their lives would be well served to understand how we see the world. Having grown up in a small town, I had a limited view of the possibilities a larger town could bring me both in career and lifestyle options. Lucky for me, my wife was able to bring a larger perspective to why I might want to live in a larger community and because of this I was able to move to a larger community when I decided I wanted to take my life to a different level.
Third, if you want to reduce risk, surround yourself with great people. Many risks can be avoided by having the right experts on the team. I can think of many times in my career where I had to convince my clients to bring another expert onto their leadership team to provide specific skills or capabilities they did not have. Learning how to build trusting partnerships with your advisors is a critical skill in these rapidly changing times. Serving leaders must become better at bringing in specialists who can provide complementary skills to the discussion. When working in Washington I saw how the strongest leaders where very capable of leading teams with many different points of views and agendas. The difference I saw between the best leaders and those who were ineffective was the ability of the leader to see many points of view before making a decision. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be times where a leader must make a decision alone. Having good advisors can significantly reduce the risk when you have to make the call quickly.
Finally, you can reduce risk by making decisions on a time schedule. I have seen more deals broken because people move too quickly. One of my early mentors taught me you cannot break the right deal. Take the time to make sure you are making the right decisions by providing yourself the time you need to evaluate the decision. My best clients have taught me that every deal has a natural flow and the best deals are put together when you give yourself the time you need to be confident in your decision.
I hope this gives you several ideas on how to reduce risk in your life. On Friday, I share several tools that help you become more creative. Creativity is critical if you hope to succeed in our fast paced and changing world. See you Friday!