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Go Big, Part I

By Chuck Violand

November 20, 2017

There are times when it’s smart to exercise caution in the decisions we make and the way in which we conduct our lives. But there are other times when we would do ourselves a favor by boldly stretching outside our comfort zones.

Some years ago, a participant in a program I was conducting gave me a list of five precepts by which to live. These precepts make as much sense today as they did when I originally received them, and I wanted to share them with you.

Care more than others think is wise. As psychologist and business author Morris Shechtman points out in his book Working Without a Net: How to Survive and Thrive in Today’s High Risk Business World, there’s a big difference between “caring for” and “taking care of,” and it’s easy to confuse the two.

When we take care of someone, we enable them. While this isn’t always a bad thing, if we’re not careful it can get in the way of a person’s growth. It can take away their responsibility for making decisions and learning from their mistakes.

Caring for someone, on the other hand, can mean letting people stand on their own and holding them accountable for their actions. “Caring for” often means saying no: for raises when they haven’t been earned; for promotions when they’re not warranted; even for privileges when we know they’re not healthy. Caring means being candid with others, even when it’s uncomfortable doing so.

Risk more than others think is safe. Risk comes in many forms, and each of us has our own tolerance for risk. Although the first thing that might come to mind is financial risk, I don’t think this precept has to do with money. Instead, a risk we frequently overlook has to do with our relationships with the people in our companies and the ways we interact with them.

Risk saying “thank you” when it’s deserved or complimenting someone for a job well done. Too often we overlook these fundamental expressions of gratitude as we look for more flashy ways to demonstrate our appreciation.

Risk offering an apology to someone we may have offended. Apologizing has nothing to do with weakness or the need to prove we’re right. It has to do with understanding ourselves and demonstrating our strength.

Risk asking others for their opinions, even when we think we already know what they’re going to tell us. Or, more importantly, when we don’t want to hear what they have to say. When we’re used to feeling like the smartest person in the room, it can be unnerving to ask others for their opinions rather than just offering our own.

Risk putting our ego in our pocket and see how the people around us respond. We might find it instructive. Those around us might find it refreshing.

As business leaders, we have a heightened risk of having inflated egos because of our positions and titles. This eventually gets in our way. Take a deep breath and risk trying humility on for size.

In Part II of this series, I’ll discuss the three remaining precepts and offer suggestions on how to utilize them in our businesses.