Blog January 2018
“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.” Colin Powell, Lessons in Leadership.
Have you ever noticed that in every organization there are always those who tell you why something can’t be done? There are those who believe it is their job to say “no” or shoot down new ideas. Well, that may not actually be what they believe their job is. However, they are the the ones that like having rules & regulations and like the status-quo, and new ideas and change do not fall in either category, so they dig their heels in and resist and tell us why our idea won’t work. We all know who they are. It might be the person sitting next to you, it might be your manager, or it might be you!
Grace Murray Hopper was the highest ranking female naval officer and helped develop the cobalt computer system and get it installed on our nuclear submarines. She was a brilliant nuclear scientist and naval officer. Grace said that if she ever asked someone why they did something and they responded, “because that is how we’ve always done it,” she would go off on them in a New York minute and say, “We do not do things in the navy just because its always been done that way.” To prove her point, she had a clock on her wall that ran counter clockwise. She is also the one who coined the phrase, “it is better to ask forgiveness and get your hand slapped later than to ask permission and be told no now.” We could all learn from a little Grace…
Grace understood Colin Powell’s comment above. Grace and Colin are not talking about sacred rules, but rather those that should be challenged, those that don’t make sense anymore, and those that if we change them can make us more efficient and effective. Leaders know when to ask themselves if the rules have become the master and are defeating the very thing which we are trying to accomplish? Leaders do not violate “sacred rules” or cross the line, but they know the value of stepping up and taking appropriate risks to stay ahead of the competition. Not gambling and being risky, but taking calculated risks that will ultimately make us better. Some risks are home runs and successful while others are not. The point is, we have to be willing to try. We’ve all heard the saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That goes for risks as well. As leaders we have to create an environment that encourages appropriate risk-taking, because with risk comes the opportunity for reward.
So I say have a little Grace…take a little risk, and try something new today to kick off 2018!