Extraordinary People: Leadership Requires Taking Risks

By: Robert White Sunday September 1, 2013 comments

Number Five of The Eight Power Principles 

for Extraordinary Success 

Take Risks!!!

Your local library or web search engine can assist with an interesting exercise.  Look up “change” …… and prepare yourself for overload.  Today a Google search returned over 2.4 billionpages on change!

Dealing with, managing or at least coping with the ever-increasing rate and amount of change has become an urgent issue in our lives and an industry for Denver executive coachingconsultanting and punditry.

This series is focused on assisting you, the leader wishing to accomplish more in his or her personal and professional life.  The sometimes overwhelming amount of change has a self-defeating side effect:  we often become more conservative and risk averse. 

The counter-intuitive requirement for living an extraordinary life is that we must learn to successfully deal with change if we are to reach our goals and live lives of purpose, vision and positive values. 

I’m suggesting here that to live lives filled with meaning and satisfaction within ever changing circumstances includes learning to take measured and effective personal and interpersonal risks.

Taking risks is definitely counter-intuitive.  Cave men and women learned really early in our human development saga that risk takers faced the possibility of never making it back to the cave.  Thus was born the famous flight or fight choice …. and neither one looked very attractive then or today.

Our coaching and team leadership trainings in Denver often include experiences that demonstrate to participants that we settle into “comfort zones,” ways of being and doing that are marked by familiarity and past success.  Perhaps a bit boring … but safe.  It’s also easy to demonstrate that it is only through risking that new possibilities emerge for us both personally and professionally.

So what is the recommendation for accelerating personal and professional growth?

Take risks

Acting within your limitations, our “comfort zones,” is not risking and will produce predictably mediocre results.  The “stopper” is fear and if you want to be in charge of your own life and what you create, then fear must be faced and you must act through it.  It takes courage and commitment, nothing more and nothing less. 

If you don’t feel fear and don’t need courage, it’s probably not a risk.  You’re probably still in your comfort zone. 

Your childhood and perhaps your early career and relationship decisions included significant risks.  It might be time to “step up” once again.  As Karl Wallenda of the famous Flying Wallendas said

“Being on the tightrope is living;

everything else is waiting.” 

I’ll come back to this topic in our “Action Steps” so read on and prepare to ……

Take Risks!

Extraordinary Living Action Steps

As a simple and powerful summary, you won’t be moved to take risks – the discomfort will stop you – unless you’re clear that your current behavior is not moving you closer to your goals, your dreams for a future that includes living an extraordinary life.  With that in mind, challenge yourself to answer the following – ideally in writing:

  • What are the less than optimal results I’m settling for in my life?

  • What are the fears that might be in my way of acting to get what I really want?

  • What are the personal prices I’m paying by not taking the risk called for to get what I really want?

  • What are the “payoffs” for me when I choose to act on what I really want, take the risk and go for what I really want?

It’s only when we’re clear about the prices we’re paying by not risking and the “payoffs” of taking a risk, that we’ll consistently summon the courage to act, to risk, to put it all on the line.

So …….. following my maxim that we all know what’s best for extraordinary people ……..

-What are the risks that I know I need to take   next?

-When will I begin taking those risks?  (hint: now works really well)



Robert White

About the Author: Robert White

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