Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Gerber.

My stepfather and mother were visiting me this past weekend and I was looking forward to it. I happen to know my stepfather  has been a bit concerned lately that I have taken, in his opinion, perhaps some unnecessary risks in my professional life. So I was happy to have the opportunity to defend my position, in person.

You see, he’s a retired, successful businessman. He’s always been fiscally conservative, and given where he is in life, he is, justifiably, risk-averse. I have the utmost respect, and in the 20 years he has been in my life, I’ve always asked his advice on matters.

But these past few years haven’t exactly been predictable. They haven’t followed the status quo. I felt a little disruption was in order and I share this with him, which is why we may not see eye to eye right now.

I sat over a glass of wine explaining how it’s OK to live on the edge and not necessarily know what the outcome will be. I can’t worry too much about the risk I’m taking when the opportunity is great.

And then, I had a sudden flashback  to my three-year-old nephew’s visit earlier this year. We had asked him what he wanted to do that day: Would he rather go to the Museum of Science and Industry or to the Aquarium?

He chose: “The bus!”

And sitting there at that table, talking to my stepfather, I realized, in this particular situation, I think I’ll take advice from my nephew, thank you very much. He is not terribly concerned about where he’s going, but he does know he’d like to take a bus to get there.

I’m not just talking about our personal lives, I’m talking about choices we make for our businesses, our employers, and our clients. We get so caught up in measuring outcomes, showing ROI, and minimizing risk but it has to be OK from time to time to throw it all up in the air, take a leap on something, and enjoy the feeling of freefall. (Hey, I said from time to time. I’m still a big fan of strategic planning and measurable outcomes.)

I’m no spring chicken but given the past few years and the detours this economy has thrown in the road trips of our lives, (or train wrecks depending on who you’re talking to), doing something that is unexpected seemed in order.

Minimize the risk, but don’t avoid it.

  • Get the support of the people that matter most.
  • Assess the worse case scenario and don’t focus on it, but be prepared for the worst.
  • Take the leap!

I don’t always want to worry about where I’m going to land. I know if I keep my head on my shoulders, I’ll land on my feet. Even if the desired outcome doesn’t, for any reason, materialize, it will open other doors along the way.