He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. — Muhammad Ali
A story is told of a lady from the Midwest, Miss Jones, who had the distinction of being the oldest resident in her town. But when she died, the editor of the local newspaper had a terrible time coming up with anything to say about her. Miss Jones had never done anything wrong. She had never spent a night in jail or had ever been drunk. On the other hand she had never done anything significant. In despair, the editor assigned the job of writing up a small article for both the paper and the tombstone to the first reporter he saw. For both the paper and the tombstone the reporter wrote: “Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones, for her life held no terrors. She lived an old maid. She died an old maid. No hits, no runs, no errors.” While Miss Jones may have held the distinction of being the oldest resident in her town, she was otherwise a bland person. As a leader, if you are going to stand out among the crowd, realize your dreams, and fulfill your destiny then you will have to take some risks. Many people have a love-hate relationship as it pertains to risk. They are content to admire risk-takers from a distance but are not willing to go there themselves. But if you want to make your mark as a leader then you will have to step out of your comfort zone and walk unfamiliar paths. What are some of the risks you will have to take? There are plenty, but here are three for your consideration. The risk of being alone Leadership for most is a lonely proposition. It’s not that you don’t have friends or that you are not among people, but the depth of your responsibilities runs deeper than what is seen on the surface. This at times will cause you to have to stand alone when making difficult decisions, when forging new paths, and pursuing your dream. Not everyone can go there with you, nor should they. The risk of being alone will be measured against the comfort of the crowd, the accolades of admirers, and the security of your company. Are you willing to risk all of that at the price of being alone and realizing your dreams? The risk of being misunderstood For many leaders this is an all-too-common reality. Leaders who are risk-takers are often misunderstood. They are perceived as a little eccentric, unconventional in their approach, and they don’t always play by the rules. Not that they are reckless or unlawful but they like to challenge tradition and thrive on thinking outside the box. They are hard to figure out because they see the same world but through a different lens. But if you are willing to be misunderstood there is a whole new world before you that is waiting to be unveiled and new heights of personal growth to attain. If you are fine with being misread, mislabeled, and misunderstood then taking some risks is for you. Don’t let the fear of what others think keep you from fulfilling your destiny. When you are willing to ignore other people’s perceptions then you are free to become the person God created you to become. The risk of not being like everyone else. Every leader’s journey is different. An environment in which one leader thrives might be disastrous for another. What motivates you in terms of dreams, life purpose, and goals may hold no appeal to even your closest of friends. But that is the beauty of the risk. Your aim is not about conforming to everyone around you but rather discovering what is true about yourself and chasing after it. Ultimately, your ambitions and dreams will require action. As a leader you can live in fear and with regrets over what might have been or you can take your chances on being lonely and misunderstood. But at the end of the day you can hold onto a deep satisfaction that you are not like everyone else. What do you say? * * * * * Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at ddickerson@ lasvegastribune.com.