Will Salyards
Leadership Coaching and Mentoring

Will Salyards, PhD Blog

Life, Career, Leadership



I subscribe to the idea that all risk is personal (if you’re in the insurance business, you may be inclined to stop reading right here-I hope you don’t). While risk can be monetized for profit that’s several steps removed from the tightness-in-your-chest kind, the kind that always demands two questions be answered: what does it mean for… and what could happen to me?

Individuals determine what for them constitutes a risk. One person will walk a tight rope, another a narrow construction member, and yet another not approach the glass wall of a high-rise. But what each determines in their acceptance of risk is the degree of freedom they will allow themselves. It means that risk, though couched in the terms of fear, has much to do with the denial to ourselves of opportunity.

We perceive risk because some thing induces a sense of fear; that’s not all bad but neither should it dominate our inner conversation. I think we’re better leaders when we force the dialogue to include thoughts of opportunity and the freedom that makes it possible, where we retain prudence but embrace possibility. It’s easier said than done; the questions make it difficult.

When we ask, “what does it mean for…?” or “what could happen to me?” the problem isn’t in the question but whether we have a dialogue or a foregone conclusion and in that arrive at the belief that bad will happen and worth the denial of freedom and opportunity to prevent it. This isn’t a call for probability analysis or even counsel but for permission, the permission to try, to do, to believe in the good.