Estimated Reading Time 3 Minutes
This week I was thinking about the relationship between passion and risk and it seems to me that you can’t have one without the other.
According to Wikipedia,” passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something”. As a manager, you need to have and exude this emotion. People follow passionate leaders. Throughout history we find countless examples, some good and some bad, of passionate people sweeping up the masses into a focused course of action.
According to Wikipedia, “risk is defined as intentional interaction with uncertainty. Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty.” Three ideas stand out about this definition of risk:
- Intentional – not accidental, or random occurrence.
- Uncertainty – there is a variety of possible outcomes that are difficult to predict with certainty.
- Consequence – there will be some outcome.
Chicken or the Egg?
Do you first become passionate about something and then that leads you to risk? Or do you put something at risk, and then you become passionate? It’s a good question worth pondering, particularly as a manager. I would suggest that you consider both sides of the coin. Here’s some questions for reflection:
- What am I passionate about as a manager? What would my direct reports say I’m passionate about?
- What do I have at risk as a manager?
- Would I be more passionate if I put more at risk? What does that look like?
- Am I currently clinging to a safe, stable, and comfortable place as a manager?
- What do I have to gain by leaving my comfort zone? What do I have to lose?
The Dangers of Playing it Safe
It’s interesting that many managers seek safety over excellence. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins makes the point that good is the enemy of great. Understand that it’s natural to gravitate towards safety, comfort, and security, but often those are the most dangerous places to be as a manager. Consider these ideas:
- Stagnation. Everything changes in the world around us and if we seek to avoid change, we lose ground. Consider numerous examples from the world of technology where staying the same led to obsolescence.
- Attitude. When your goal is to avoid change, and change occurs, you feel victimized. Playing victim gives away all your personal power.
- Boredom. Change keeps us sharp and alive. Refusing to change reduces our need to innovate and be creative. I have a two year old granddaughter who exemplifies this perfectly.
- Regret. The saddest thing I observe is a manager looking back and confessing with regret that they avoided taking a chance. And that is the greatest risk of all.
Set aside a few minutes this week and do some uninterrupted writing about your observations on passion and risk and where you are in relation to these two ideas. Use some of the questions above to help get you started. Maybe you need to remind yourself of what you have at risk in order to pump up your passion, or maybe you need to make the decision to put something at risk by committing yourself to leave your comfort zone. Either way, be reminded of the power of passion, and the necessity of taking risks, when it comes to leadership and achievement.