My last blog, Consider Rightly, is about responding to random events by turning them into adventures.. Adventures take you places your never expected, or wanted, to go. They lead you to people you never expected to meet, connections you never thought you would make. Adventures push you to re-examine your beliefs. Adventures lead to subversive ideas. But adventures can be disruptive to your orderly world. They can be risky. And risk? Risk is frightening.
Risk is frightening because you put yourself in situations beyond your control. During the Ebola crisis I needed to go to Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, countries sharing borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia…the epicenters of the disease. What should I do, I asked myself, take the risk and help build food security for the countries and economic development for the poorest farmers or sit home just in case Ebola spread?
My passport now has new visas and stamps. And there’s a project well on its way to success.
If you can’t take the risk along with the adventure, change comes slowly, if at all. If you remain in your comfortable chair with your comfortable view, surrounded by familiar people, the world will rush by, as it does at a faster and faster rate. These days no one can afford to be stuck in what they do.. When random events or unexpected opportunities appear you can’t let them go by because there’s some risk involved. Grab them.
We’re not talking unevaluated risk, risk jumped into without any thought about what it means and its possible consequences, good and bad. Rather we’re talking opportunities that are risky but after careful thought and evaluation you determine the risk is worth the possible big return.
Peter Drucker said “people who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” The math is inescapable. The result is quite different.
Leaders who take reasoned risks find that many of the risks they take move them forward in leaps and bounds enabling them to swiftly and efficiently overcome the two big mistakes and race ahead. Leaders who are risk averse don’t have their adventure skills in place to overcome the two big mistakes so find themselves backsliding.
I’ve been invited to be the third partner of a new company with an innovative and creative idea for reaching and helping those at the bottom of the pyramid, the poorest in Latin America and Africa. It’s exciting to be asked…and a huge risk. After some discussion about what has been done and where it’s going (my due diligence about the risk/reward) I accepted the invitation.. It’s a sizable commitment of time and resources. I have to drop some other things I’m doing and stick my neck way out hoping the hatchet doesn’t fall.
On many levels it’s risky, and yet, the opportunity is so intriguing, its potential benefits enormous. Let the adventure begin.
Many things happen to each of us beyond our control. Most of them are minor: the stoplight turns red as you approach and you’re stuck for 30 seconds. Some are major: the driver behind you doesn’t notice and rear ends you.
There’s nothing we can do about such things. What we can do is control how we deal with such random happenings.
For those in positions of authority the response can affect many, for an individual acting on their own the response can at least affect them for better or worse. Some let such things affect them in ways that have negative impacts not only on their own mindset, but in the case of leaders, on the fate of others. Others use the random occurrence as a learning tool, something to ponder and work out its affect and perhaps how to control or change the event from happening in the future.
G K Chesterton said “an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
The way you approach blips in your path has consequences that stretch out far in front of you. Think about the people you know. How different is the result for the people who take a blocked road as a chance to explore unknown terrain from those who become furious and learn nothing from the new path they must follow. The story these two executives will share when they get to the office will have quite different impacts on how those who hear it act that day.
As a regular global traveler I’ve had my share of long delayed and missed flights. I’ve met quite a few interesting people and landed some new clients by taking the delay as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. I’ve also talked to people who are amazed when they hear how I’ve connected this way to senior executives of GSK and Pepsico and enjoyed a long discussion about airline employee hiring practices with the head of pilot recruitment for Qatar Airways.
The difference between having an adventure and coming away with new and useful knowledge and experience and being inconvenienced and coming away with aggravation and high blood pressure is dependent on the way you perceive things.
Consider rightly…come away with new ideas to energize you and your people. Consider wrongly…come away angry and empty of ideas and drain the energy of youself and your people.
It’s all an adventure. Treat it as such and expand your mind.