“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” ~Denis Waitley
Risk taking is scary for most people because inherent in every activity is the risk of failure. People don’t like to fail – myself included. But the truth is that one of the common attributes of many successful people is that their success has been grounded in taking a risk of one sort or another. In my teenage years I was very active in competitive athletics – track and field. I will always remember the opportunity I had to spend a few hours with the then head coach of the Canadian track and field team, and hearing him explain to those of us assembled what he called the 60-40 rule. Simply put, he explained that success in athletics was 40% physical and 60% mental. And of that 60% the first 30% was technical expertise with the last 30% being an athlete’s willingness to take risk.
By taking risk he meant pushing the boundaries that the body was used to feeling. Going faster than your mind was telling you was possible. Then he said, that those who were willing to focus on the 30% that was grounded in risk, were those who had the potential to excel at their sport and event.
Managing Risk for Business Success
Those days are well in the past, but I truly believe that the rule is as applicable to business success and career development as it is to sport. If you look around your office or at your team, you will easily see that there are many smart people with whom you work. As you look at your career path it should be more than evident that there are many well-qualified, highly experienced people vying for the same promotions and opportunities you are. What will be that key differentiation between you and them? Let me suggest that it may very well be a willingness to take calculated risk. To put yourself out there and be willing to fail in the pursuit of high achievement. The last 30%.
Willing to Fail
As the gun went off all the runners in the race relied on their preparation, their training, and their strategy. As the leader crossed the finish line, he or she were the ones who pushed through the pain, risked the fast-pace, and triumphed successfully.
What about us as leaders? Are we focusing on the first 40% or the last 30?