Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Being Safe Or Being Great?

Are you a great leader?

Right now, many people are retreating into their shells in order to be "safe". However, I'd like to pose the question: "Do you want to be SAFE? Or do you want to THRIVE?"

If you want to be safe, okay, do that. Just don't complain to me in ten years that you never really lived your dreams and never reached your full potential!

But if you want to THRIVE, you must take a risk every now and then.

Two years ago, a friend of mine was launching a consulting business. At the time, the real estate market was at an all-time high. She had a secure (safe) job. She was making good money. And, she knew she was going to leave the secure job for the unknown. She asked me for my advice. I told her to sell her house, sell her expensive car, and downsize everything, then build from that smaller expense base for her new business.

She told me that such an idea was unthinkable. She played it safe.

Wind the clock forward. The real estate market collapsed. She's been out on her own consulting and no longer has the "safe" harbor of her job AND she now needs to refinance the house in order to keep it. With the real estate and lending market tightened up, she cannot qualify to refinance her house unless she has a secure job. However, getting a job in this market is not an easy thing to do. She now has herself backed into a much more difficult position. In this market, if she were to sell her house, she would actually lose money.

Do you see the risk you take by being safe? When you have the position of equity, and you want to launch a new business, that is the time to cash out, lower expenses, and then build your business with the equity in the form of cash, rather than asset. Normally, I'd say build assets, and then use that cash for growth. That works great until you're launching something new. And, even when you're launching something new I recommend this approach. But if the market turns south, you must first have a secure fort, then venture out to forage.

"The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise." - Tacitus

As you can see, wise leaders in the past took a stand against being safe and promoted taking risks if you want to be GREAT. When I play a military strategy game, I've noticed that if a general is attacking one of my cities, I can react a few different ways. First, I could take a strike at the general's attacking army. Second, I could wait for him to attack me. These are both defensive postures. Or, I can be bolder and leave my city to defend itself (risky) and attack one of the general's cities with my roving army. More times than not, I end up fending off his attacking army with my smaller defensive force left behind, then win the battle against his city with my attacking army. When I do this, I not only keep my city, but gain one of his. This is the bold strategy and the quickest path to being great in the strategy game. Taking the risk produces the reward. Now, there is the risk that my attacking army could be defeated, and that the defending city could be surprised by an even greater foe and fall to his attack, in which case I'll have to double back to defend the next city he will attack. But, more times than not, I prevail using this strategy of attacking with part of my defensive army. General Lee used this very same strategy against General Hooker at Chancellorsville when he split his army and sent General "Stonewall" Jackson in a flanking maneuver around Hooker's army in one of the greatest victories for the South during the American Civil War.

In order to be bold, you must have a superior strategy. When your strategy is superior, you will win even when the odds in numbers are against you. If your strategy is weak, you will lose if all else is equal. So, if you are losing more than you are winning, rather than pull back ALL your forces, why not evaluate your strategy. Discover where you are weak, and improve upon that position.

This is my recommendation for us, in life, too.

When my band was struggling to get gigs, I evaluated our CD. The song I was sending out did not position the band as "feel good, happy music" so we missed out on the festival season's gigs. The next time I went into the studio I focused on the songs that create a feel-good, happy vibe. Those will be the songs I release next.

When Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run, he already released two albums. While the critics thought the albums were good, they still did not sell. When he released Born To Run, the song was about breaking free, with the protagonist positioned as a motorbike and a woman named Wendy the person going on the journey. The idea was to break free down the turnpike, strap in for love, and go for it! This is the energy that SELLS! It is the energy of GOING FOR IT that people will be drawn to. The energy of making SAFE, SOUND decisions might bring you SOME success but most likely will not propel you to stardom.

If you, like me, seek to go ALL the way, then you must look at the ways you're playing safe, and then break free from those safety nets to GO FOR IT! Let others know how you're going for it and that you want them to come with you, buy from you, taste the excitement of the journey. It is an invitation that is hard to resist. And, as they join in with you, watch your abundance flow!

Copyright © 2009 AspireNow. All rights reserved. Want more? Subscribe to the A-Blog.

Like it? Share on or Stumble Upon!

No comments:

Subscribe to the A-Blog

Enter your email address:

 Subscribe in a reader

AspireNow's Amazon Store