Learn From Taking a Risk

Monday, September 1 2014

We must create favourable conditions so that we can learn. Fear can interfere with our learning if it keeps us from creating those favourable conditions; and yet the greatest learning comes from taking risks. It might be stretching our limits and trying something new, setting a goal that seems insurmountable, or making time for an activity that is important to us, even at the risk others will criticize.

When we do take risks we may be afraid of failing, making a mistake, or looking less than perfect. The results, however, can be invigorating and the knowledge gained is the basis for greater learning.

Many people thought I was crazy when, in my early twenties, I chose to leave a career in the UK and immigrate to Canada; yet it was one of the best things I have ever done. I risked and I learned. I learned that persistence pays off and that if you want something badly enough you can find a way to achieve that goal. I didn’t have any savings and had to work as a runner in a Bingo Hall at night in order to pay the airfare. I was driven to succeed by my interest in learning, trying something new, and experiencing the excitement that comes with overcoming a challenge.

Consider your role as a leader helping people to learn and grow. If your team is not taking risks, stretching their limits, setting and achieving powerful goals, they may not be learning. This may be demonstrated by lower morale and less than exemplary results. Help your team to continue to learn:

  • Mutually agree upon stretch goals that require individuals to grow
  • Provide coaching which includes guidance, support and accountability
  • Spend time on training in different aspects of the business
  • Have career discussions and help people lay out their future. These discussions won’t necessarily be about promotions. Consider what they would like to learn, opportunities for cross-training, or committee work that support the organization.
  • Hold Lunch-and-Learns that draw people from other departments to explain their areas of expertise
  • Share articles and books that you have found interesting
  • Set up challenges and help people to be physically fit
  • Involve people in problem-solving discussions, which help the organization to grow

None of these ideas will work unless you create favourable conditions.

Plan time for learning. Make it a priority. Getting out of a comfort zone is a choice. If all we do is work on execution and have not planned time for other activities we are likely to have a team that atrophies. Take a risk and make continual learning fun, exhilarating and part of your regular routine.