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One problem many leaders have is the gap between what they want to happen and the courage it takes to get there.

You dream of a radically new future, but then you answer emails all day, go to meetings in person or on Zoom, drink caffeine, and go home before it’s too late.  All with far too much of what you didn’t do today and what you did again today leftover for a boring do-it-again tomorrow.

And if you examine a little further, you’ll often find that what lurks under the monotony of every day is fear.  It’s easier to answer emails and be in meetings all day instead of making the bold moves you need to make to secure a better future.

That pattern is not healthy.

To accomplish a profoundly new future, you will have to do profoundly different things.  And that involves risk-taking.

Most of us are frightened of this.  It scares the socks off most of us.  After all, isn’t risk for risk-takers?  And many of us are not wild about taking risks.

So, when you realize fear is holding you back, how do you act?  How do you push past your fear?

Well, start with small steps.  Small victories over fear quickly become larger ones.  It’s like any good muscle; the more you practice overcoming your fears, the more fear you overcome.

What motivates me to grow bolder in my leadership is to consider the alternative, which is not always good.

It’s simple.  If risks aren’t taken in your leadership, you can fail.

  • Your ministry or business will experience few breakthroughs and likely continue down a path of decline to insignificance.
  • You will resign from leadership without any sense of fruit or fulfillment.

Here’s what can be worse.  From a distance, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a leader who is fearful and a leader who is lazy.  Why?  Well, while the motivation is different, the outcome is often indistinguishable.

I believe risk-taking is both a mindset and a habit.  Take a few baby steps toward tackling small challenges, and soon, you’ll be up for the bigger ones.

However, if you’re a natural risk-taker, you may feel an inclination the older you get to rest on your past accomplishments or just enduring to the end mentality.  Don’t.

One of the biggest fears in risk-taking is the fear of failure.  But the real failure in risk-taking is the lack of faith – and it is impossible to please God without faith.  I like my team to take risks when it is accompanied by faith in the Lord.  Mistakes will be made, but if we learn from them and continue to take calculated risks, we will fail forward!

Even taking risks like the ones below will get you started for future change and transformation, which is always in season.

After all, the new generation doesn’t care much about what you did yesterday.

 Seven Risks Any Leader Can Take Today

So, if you want to stretch your risk-muscle for the first time or the 1000th time, here are seven practical ways to get started now:

  1. Begin Something You Don’t Know How to Complete

It can be truly incredible.  Only tackling stuff you know how to do is a guaranteed path to unproductivity and eventual boredom.

What’s that project at work that paralyzes you?  Get started.  Now.  And see where it takes you.  You will figure it out.  I promise. 

A common phrase you hear around our ministry leaders is, “We’ll figure it out and make it happen.”  And “we can fix the plane while we are flying.  We have the Lord.” 

Most people who make the biggest difference had no idea what they were doing when they began.

Why should it be any different with you?

  1. Do What You Have Been Thinking of Doing But Haven’t Done Yet

Don’t we all have projects we’ve been thinking of doing for years that might be doable but haven’t begun doing them yet?

So, like the Nike commercial in the past…Just do it!

Make the call.  Send the text.  Clean out that drawer.  Start the conversation.  Write page one of the book you’re petrified to begin.

True leaders have a determination for great action, not just great thinking.

  1. Be Generous When You Don’t Feel Like It

Yes, generosity can be risky.  Being financially generous is a risk when you don’t feel like you have the funds to be generous.

Being generous with praise is a risk when you don’t feel like praising someone.

In a world with many reasons to be stingy, generosity can be a risk.  But the key to developing an abundance mentality is being generous.  And people with an abundance mentality often end up taking more risks.

You can start by thanking someone who deserves some thanks even if you don’t feel like giving it.  Or give some money away.  You may surprise yourself with what you get back.  You grow what you plant!

  1. Set A Goal You Think Is Unreachable

You won’t set an audacious goal because you think it’s impossible, which is precisely why you should set it.

It can be small.  You can take this truth to bank: People who set goals accomplish more than people who don’t.

  1. Be Vulnerable

Yes, vulnerability is also a risk.

Bring a close friend in on a struggle you haven’t talked to anyone about yet.  Get over your fear of telling your team you don’t know the answer (I promise you they already know).

    • Being vulnerable sets you up for accepting the failure that inevitably accompanies the risk of failure you’re so scared of.
    • Being vulnerable today will prepare you for a bit of failure tomorrow on your way to more extraordinary accomplishments. Like I said, fail forward.
  1. Give Someone Else An Opportunity You Were Going to Take For Yourself

It’s risky to trust others with something you care about, isn’t it?  Which is why you it is important for you to do it.

Select an opportunity you were personally going to do and offer it to someone else to do it.  It will not only help you have a more empowered leadership but doing so will also position you to generate a stronger and better team moving forward.

As one leadership guru said, “when it comes to accomplishment, if you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go further, go with a team.”

  1. Remove Quitting from The Table

When you’re afraid, you think about quitting, don’t you?  So, take it off the table.  Just decide you’re in for the long haul and get moving.

It’s riskier to stay and try than it is to quit and leave.

In the same way, couples who take divorce off the table usually find a way to work through their issues; you will find a way to work through your problems if you move quitting off the table.

Written by Stan Ponz
Dr. Stan Ponz is founder and president of Make It Clear Ministries (a national ministry that began in 1973 to help people take the Gospel and the Word of God into every person's world!). Stan also serves as President of Clarity Christian College. and is married to his high school sweetheart Carol, who led him to the Lord in 1966.