Margie Warrell is a Forbes columnist, bestselling author, and exclusive speaker with Saxton. She draws on her background in Fortune 500 business, psychology and coaching to help people and organisations lead with greater purpose, courage and resilience.
Some sage advice from Marge as 2015 draws to a close...
5 Ways To Chart A Braver Path In 2016
Talk to any person who’s achieved a solid success in their career or business, and they’ll tell you that one of the keys to their success was being willing to take risks and when plans failed, learn the lessons and move on. No wallowing.
Of course if it were easy to forge a bold path, everyone would be. But it takes a lot of courage to risk making a wrong call, rocking the boat, falling short and laying your reputation on the line. Yet, when it comes to taking your career, team or business to a new level of success (or simply staying in the game!), being unwilling to take those risks runs the greater risk of losing ground to those who are.
In Thinking Fast and Slow, psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kanheman explained how poor we human beings can be at discerning between foolish risks and the smart ones required to advance toward our goals. That is, our psychological DNA is wired to:
- Focus more on what might go wrong than on what could go right
- Underestimate our ability to handle risks (particularly women!)
- Discount the cost of inaction
- Seek out information that supports the status quo and devaluing that which doesn’t (driving ‘sunk cost bias’)
Growth and comfort never ride the same horse. So if you want 2016 to be more than a continuation of the year just gone, you’ll need to rethink how you’re approaching risk and forgo the safety of the known for something more important. To help you along, here are four risks you’ll need to take. Likely more than once!
1 Risk mistakes: Be decisive amid uncertainty
In an age where we more information at our fingertips than existed in all the world’s encyclopedias just fifty years ago, waiting until you have all the information you want (and have analyzed it fully, multiple times) can be costly. Sure, making a decision with incomplete information has its risks, but waiting until you know everything often has far more. As I wrote in Brave, don’t let fear of making a wrong decision keep you from making a right one. In a world where change is happening fast and the windows of opportunity close quickly, delaying a decision can be increasingly expensive. Doing something is nearly always more fruitful than doing nothing.
2. Risk awkwardness: Discuss the indiscussable
Our relationships are the currency of influence in the workplace but too often we avoid the very issues we need to talk about most. The most important conversations demand vulnerability – putting your ego and your desire for approval on the line. That’s why people often avoid go about them in cowardly ways or try to avoid them all together.
When you risk stepping out from behind your computer screen and talking openly about sensitive issues, you add value, build influence and earn trust in ways that tiptoeing around crucial issues never can. People may not always like what you have to say, but they will always respect your courage for saying it.
3. Risk ignorance: Unlearn to relearn
Navigating to a destination using an old map tends to land you in the wrong place. Likewise, the ‘mental maps’ that got you to where you are today - complete with their rules and assumptions and - will be unlikely take you where you want to get to one year from now, much less five.
Curiosity holds more value than cleverness. As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, “You must let go uncertainties to discover new possibilities.” You can only do that if you’re open to ‘unlearning’ what you think you know so you can ‘relearn’ what you need to know. Only when you have the courage say “I don’t know” and risk appearing ignorant, will you be able to come up with the creative solutions and innovative approaches needed to move forward smarter, and more competitively, than before.
4. Risk quitting: If you’re in a hole, stop digging
The term ‘sunk cost bias’describes our tendency to keep investing in a losing proposition because of what it’s already cost us. But here’s the deal: if you ever find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Because investing more into something that’s not working, won’t make it better. Rather every day (or dollar) you invest in something that isn’t advancing you toward what you want, is a day you aren’t investing in something that could. AsLayne Beachley shared with me for RawCourage.TV, “The biggest mistakes people make aren’t avoiding mistakes but not admitting when they do.”
Continuing down a path that isn’t taking you where you want to go for no other reason than you’ve already walked a long way isn’t courageous. It’s crazy. Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to call it a day, learn the lessons and move on. As Richard Branson shared with me during my interview with him, “Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, but learn from them and start again.” The longer you let fear of feeling like a failure keep you from calling it quits, the harder it will become to start over and begin anew.
5. Risk rejection: Dare to stand out
As social beings, we’re wired to want to belong and so fear of being ‘left out’, ‘pushed out’, ‘missing out’ or standing out from the pack can be powerful unconscious drivers. However, when all you do is try to fit in and conform, all you have to offer is conformity. Only when you risk standing out can add the full quota of value that you have to bring and set yourself apart from the masses. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “You can’t lead from the crowd.” The greatest achievers continually put themselves ‘out there’ – laying their pride on the line for something that’s more important.
Whether it’s standing out, speaking up or owning mistakes, experience has taught me that while courage doesn’t guarantee success, it always precedes it!
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