Posts tagged: taking risks

What Is The Stupidest Thing That Could Possibly Work?


There’s that line from the movie Forest Gump… “stupid is as stupid does” … well, there’s stupid and then there’s bravely awesome. Clay Shirky, one of my favorite authors, says…

“My motto for 2013, adapted from Agile Programming precepts = What Is The Stupidest Thing That Could Possibly Work?”

One of the reasons we keep doing the same thing over and over and don’t innovate… is that we surround ourselves with people just like ourselves. It’s human nature. And if someone sounds different or has goofy ideas or looks different; we forget to value the difference. We discount them based on whatever. The goal of diversity is to OPEN up the pool of ideas and thoughts. Recent research shows that large corporations that have women board members are more profitable than those that don’t. This only tells part of the story.

Real innovation must come from change and change takes courage. We’d all still be hitting each other with clubs if there weren’t some of us willing to create tools to go get food.

The more we think about things and try to ‘figure it all out,” the less likely we are to take the risk. The most successful parts of my life.. traveling, new jobs, speaking in front of large groups, etc. all came to me because I didn’t think about what might happen. I just did it.

We don’t have to engage in foolish risks without considering how to mitigate them, but letting “risks stop us from doing new things” is the safe road and on the ‘safe road’ only the guy with the biggest club will survive and I’m not having that.

Photo credit: Projectile Placement skycaptaintwo

Spectacular Failure – An Aspiration

When was the last time you had a spectacular failure?

I don’t mean “oops”— I mean whoa, that did not work out the way I thought.

No one likes failure —  BUT, I know if I’m not occasionally failing and — failing fast, then I’m not taking enough risk.  Most of the good stuff in my life came to me because I could not get what I needed or wanted via  ‘the safe road.’

But remember this. I’m a Capricorn; the goat. We do not leap or pounce; we plod.

So for all you who are thinking… yeah, it’s easy for her.  STOP RIGHT THERE.  Taking risks is hard, scary, unsafe at any speed.

Here’s what helps me take more risk:

— My mentors are in their 20’s & 30’s.  I am eager to learn from them & they are patient and generous.

— I gravitate to people who are trying new stuff and look for opportunities to associate with entrepreneurs.

— I try to read books that challenge my thinking. (I know, books are long and take a lot of time to read but I skim.) I visit the library. You can add your review to your Linked In profile. Here are a couple of suggestions that I’m going for:

Thomas Friedman’s new book, That Used to Be Us or Burg and Mann (Go-Giver), It’s Not About You.

Change is good, timing is everything, patience is the key. However… the good Lord helps those that help themselves. If you always do what you always did… you’ll always get what you always got. How’s that working out for you?

“If You Don’t Like Change, You’re Going to Like Irrelevancy Even Less”

“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more…”  Erica Jong

Last week I made a presentation to the Western NY chapter of the Product Development Management Association (PDMA)  on how Social Media is radically changing the world of product development.  I have been working on the ideas for this presentation and getting to know people in the group for nearly a year. When the time came for me to make this presentation, I believed I had something valuable to share.

But some little part of me thought, uh oh. What if they disagree? What if the material isn’t interesting? These are just my thoughts and ideas; maybe I’m wrong. In other words, I knew I was taking a risk and suddenly the reality of the risk hit home.  A few minutes later, I pushed these thoughts from my mind, knew that I was well prepared and then hoped for the best. You’ll be glad to know that everything went well.

In my mind, if I’m not taking a fair number of risks in my professional life, then I’m not learning and growing. The important thing is to take calculated risks; ones that I know from experience,  have a fairly high probability of turning out in my favor. Years ago I heard this quote and decided that I would embrace the philosophy…”The best way to cope with change is to create it.”

And here’s another very interesting way to look at it… “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.” General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

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