Make risky choices – and owning the consequences

I’ve just read the most inspiring, daring piece of writing courtesy of the incredible Lisa Messenger.  Lisa is the Founder and Editor of The Collective magazine and, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, one kick-ass – and gorgeously feminine – lady.

The piece was Lisa’s editorial in this month’s Collective magazine.  This month’s issue features a women, facing away, walking out on a ledge over New York City with only a man’s hand holding her back.  While it’s a fantastic picture, it’s an interesting choice for a magazine cover.

This image symbolises every that The Collective stands for – taking risks, getting out there and being gutsy – but that’s not why it’s such a brave choice.  Lisa admits that the reason it’s a brave choice is that, simply, famous faces sell magazines – and this is not only not a famous face, it’s not even a face.

In her editorial, Lisa mentions that she’s wanted to do this for months but, with her magazine empire growing into new markets, she’s needed to conform with famous faces to sell the magazine to new readers.   But this month, not only did she take the risky leap, she also accepted full responsibility for what might be a really bad decision.  In her own words “I’m prepared to take the risk, and prepared to take the hit”.

I admire this gutsy woman in so many ways, her transparency and complete honesty is so refreshing in what can sometimes be an entrepreneurial world of self-serving “spin”.

For entrepreneurs, each day is all about pushing boundaries and going against the grain – and, by doing that, you expose yourself to potential criticism about those possible bad decisions.  But, at the end of the day, if you’re prepared to wear the consequences – and wear them proudly – those risky decisions could be the best ones you’ll ever make.

No one ever made it big by being mediocre and so, if that’s your goal, you need to take those risks.

We do it every day at Workible.  We take risks – and we’re absolutely prepared to “fall on our swords” if they’re the wrong ones.  Sometimes we do, but most of the time, those decisions, while they might not be the big ground-breaking event we hoped for, give us valuable learning experiences.  And every now and again, one proves to be a killer idea.

We realize that if we don’t make risky choices sometimes, if we’re not prepared to go out on that ledge, we may stay mediocre forever – and, for an entrepreneur, that’s an awful thought.

CollectiveLisa, I so admire your need to go against the grain and take risks and I don’t think this cover is a mistake.  If fact, it just might be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Lisa’s reminder in this editorial piece was this – “everyone is equal – the only difference is attitude and mindset.”  After a month of meetings with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the magazine publishing world in NYC, such as Vogue’s matriarch Anna Wintour and Conde Nast’s  CEO Chuck Townsend, Lisa’s statement that “they are just normal people like me, doing the best they can in their chosen field and in life to make a difference in the world” shows that these are just ordinary people making – and owning – big, risky decisions.  It also brings to mind a saying my Co-Founder, Alli Baker (another superstar woman) used to always say.  In conversations we’d have about people doing extraordinary things, Alli would say “My Dad always says, they still put their pants on like us, one leg at a time”.  Yep, they’re ordinary people.

So here’s the kicker…

We all have the capability to do great things, but, if we really want to achieve something extraordinary, we have to be brave enough to risk really pushing the boundaries and making those big, brave decisions and to take the hits – and the learning experiences that comes with them – if they don’t work out.  And we have to proudly own them.

(BTW if you haven’t yet, pick up The Collective Magazine.  It’s an amazing, inspiring read – each and every issue.)

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