Becoming a Calculated Risk-Taker

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This class has been quite the journey for me. As we’ve gone through this class, I’ve made an effort to step outside of my comfort zone. In a way, taking this class in the first place is representative of me leaving that comfort zone.

players firstA lot of this (becoming more active on social media, working in a group throughout the semester, relying on others for key project components, and working in a class format that is different from the traditional way of doing things) “risk taking” is a key component of becoming a leader and forms the underlying foundation of my personal leadership manifesto.

You must love the thought of pushing through your comfort level.

– John Calipari, Players First

Coming into this class, I wasn’t much of a risk taker. In fact, I still don’t know if I’m that kind of person just yet, but I now have a deeper of understanding of what needs to be done in order to get myself to that point in the future.

Because of this class, the projects I’ve done and the books I’ve read, I’ve come up with two definitions: one for leadership and one for leaders.

Leadership, to me, can be defined as calculated risk taking in pursuit of a vision. Every display of leadership that we’ve studied this year has involved some level of risk-assessment. If we go back to the very beginning of the class, Shackleton was the ultimate risk-taker. He knew the consequences, both of going to the South Pole and of trying to escape the clutches of the ice. But he also had a vision, first to explore the vast unknown, and later to save the lives of the men in his crew.

In both instances, the strength and importance of the vision outweighed the potential negative consequences of the risk.

We reach our personal goals by striving together toward collective goals.

– John Calipari, Players First

Leaders, then, are risk-taking visionaries who use the strength of their vision to galvanize the people around them in order to take those risks together. A big component of this, to me, is coaching. A good leader can coach their team through the risk-taking process, thereby strengthening each member of that group.

In many ways, Dr. Bill has been a coach for us this semester, but I think more importantly, each of us have had to become leaders and express leadership for each other. Each of the Humphrey Fellows took a big risk in leaving their careers to come to the U.S., and each of them has a vision for what they want to do in life. And all of us took a risk by taking this class. We all had visions for how we would learn about leadership, and we all coached each other through the risk-taking process of presentation, blogging, discussion and social media.

How much further could we have gone? I don’t know. All I know is that we went way beyond what we thought was possible.

– Kevin Cashman, Leadership from the Inside Out

Would I call myself a “Leader” after having taken this course? Probably not. My risk-taking needs work and my vision is shaky. Would I say that this class gave me, and all of us, the opportunity to lead? Absolutely.

Going forward, I will take what I’ve learned here to heart. I’m going to be a little bolder, a little more adventurous and a little more mindful of who I am and what I want to be.

I’m going to create a concrete vision for myself and then develop and stick to a plan of action to achieve it. In that process, I will identify the people around me who can help coach me to that goal. Hopefully, by the end, I will be a better leader and a better person.