Effective leadership is about risk taking

“The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.”

— Goethe

What leaders have to remember is that somewhere under the somnolent surface is the creature that builds civilizations, the dreamer of dreams, the risk taker. And remembering that, the leader must reach down to the springs that never dry up, the ever-fresh springs of the human spirit.”
— John W. Gardner

I regularly watch the Invictus, the movie about Nelson Mandela and his quest to bring national unity through rugby in South Africa. The Springboks, the all white rugby team was the instrument of unity. In the movie, when he is informed that the national sports body of the country had passed a unanimous vote to change the color, logo and other emblems of the Springbok, he rushed to the venue to convince the delegates to change their resolution. While he was leaving, his chief of staff pleaded with him to not risk his future position as the leader of the country for such a matter as trivial as rugby. If leaders understood his response, leadership would be a more fulfilling task today. His response was that the day he stopped risking his position to pursue his belief for his people that, is the day he will cease to be the leader.

To roll the dice is the mandate of leadership. To sustain leadership, you have to take chances. Complacency is the enemy of greatness. Failing to take risks dims the vision and drive of people. The task of leadership is to push people to see different, to think different and to do different. A culture of disrespect to the status quo is vital to attaining greatness.

Becoming a high impact leader because you are willing to follow the path uncharted, to head to the inner voice and explore the ideal world by your imaginations requires:

1. Act inspite of fear

Courage is the realization that there is something more valuable, and urgent than fear. We must act with the full knowledge that our actions may cost us friends and allies, it may mean sacrificing selfish interests for the greater good, it may even mean sacrificing well-being. But we must act.

2. If your intentions are pure, you will walk over the sees.

Intentions set forth the circle of manifestation. They attract and release creative energies. Intentions make our faith steadfast. If we learn to trust the power of intentions, we will act with less fear, we will walk with less doubt. Intentions plants the seed of optimism within leaders. It builds conviction.

3. Embrace the beginner’s mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

The beginner’s mind is about failing gloriously and learning fast. It is the illusion of knowledge that makes us judge. The wisdom of the warrior is that they are comfortable with having a don’t know mind. This leads us to trust out intuition and offer appropriate response to circumstances.

4. Find yourself by thinking for yourself.

Steve Jobs cautioned against living life on dogma, the product of other people’s thoughts. Determine what does freedom mean to you. refuse the illusions that the world sells on what is success, what is good and right, what is pure and true. What is truth.

5. Utilize the experiences of your past. The wisdom of other people’s learning.

6. Learn, unlearn and relearn. Yesterday’s excellence is today’s mediocrity.

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