On mother’s day this year my 10-year-old made me a card. It had lots of hand drawn pictures, was my favorite color and had a simple note about why he loved me. One small phrase stood out more than all the other usual statements – he called me adventurous! I almost cried. Of course, I loved that he made the card and that he took the time to learn my favorite color, but there was something much bigger in that single statement.
While I have always encouraged my children to try new things — from peas when they were little to new sports like Karate — a few years ago I realized I wasn’t always setting the best example. I would take them to Laser Tag but sit in the lobby waiting for them to tell me all about the game. I decided to stop sitting on the sidelines and try to get outside my comfort zone more often. The result – I got creamed in laser tag but was pretty good at water gun fights. Learned to knit, went to Space Camp, mastered (and my mastered I mean completed) an entire ropes course, started my own business and ate a chocolate covered cricket to name just a few triumphs. The fact that my son added adventurous to the annual list of reasons he loved me felt like the most amazing award I could ever receive.
Every day we are presented with the chance for adventure in our businesses. Just like at home we have to work to embrace them. As leaders its our job to create environments where people feel safe to not only seize but to create opportunity.
Make it safe to fail – The most important thing we can do as leaders is make it safe to fail. If we don’t our teams won’t try new things and our business stagnates. Give people permission to fail and create a safety net by lending new ideas resources and encouragement.
Seek out adventure – Adventure sometimes finds us but more often we have to seek it out. Encourage your team to get outside of their comfort zone and find opportunities to experiment.
Praise the attempt – It’s easy to celebrate success but we must also praise the path it took to get there. Praise individuals and teams for their thought processes and planning acumen distinct from the results, good or bad, of their effort.
What adventure will you pursue next week?