We are taught from birth to avoid risk. To go where it is safe. To avoid pain. To find the paths of least resistance.
Sounds wise. Why would we place ourselves in unnecessary danger? Who in their right mind would do so?
But wait. What does it really mean to be in your “right mind?” Many will define it differently, but it all points to behaving in a relatively riskless manner.
Which is, in itself, a prescription for another insidious form of danger: of being plain, ordinary, overlooked and as far as the world and/or the organization you are involved with is concerned: inconsequential.
It is only by taking the opposite approach that leads to great success. One that is inspirational. One that reflects — in heart and spirit — the qualities that define exceptional leaders, inventors, team members, entrepreneurs.
Those who swim with the sharks are the truly inspirational among us.
*When you witness the majesty of a blind person taking on Mt. Everest, you can hear the chorus warning him of the danger. But we cheer him on, as he shows us that for as long as we are alive, we are privileged – and I say duty bound — to challenge the sense that safety is somehow noble.
*As we read about men and women who hock their homes to invest in businesses they are confident in and passionate about — often against all odds — we look to them for the courage to take on the daunting risks the “adults in the room” warn us about.
*When we summon the courage to push back on a boss who is a bully, closed minded, sexist, racist or all of the above, we may lose our jobs but we will embellish our courage and our dignity and that will drive our success in or beyond the confines of the small and tainted pond we propelled ourselves from.
The sharks I refer to are not simply the creatures of the sea that can devour an arm in a moment. They are:
*Smart and creative people who will always give us a run for our money.
*Wise and cunning competitors who think and act far ahead of the curve. Tangling with them can be terrorizing, of course, but it always ups our game.
*Giant killers who decide that in spite of the daunting obstacles, they are going to create products so superior that they will disrupt industries and take down the behemoths (who often don’t see them coming until it’s too late).
Safety is something you pursue when you don’t want to pursue anything noble, astounding, exceptional or memorable. It is standing in line, waiting for the sheep you report to to tell who what to do.
Give me the sharks anytime.