Has society become too risk-averse?
Do people have expectations on safety, compliance and equalisation to the extent that trailblazing is frowned upon, while risk-takers and outliers are ostracised?
Conservatism is the antithesis of aspiration. Australians are ashamed of failure. Other cultures wear failure as a badge of honour, a sign of resilience, resourcefulness and strength.
Generationally, children are brought up in an ever-increasing protected and sheltered environment, where adversity, hardship and disappointment are avoided. Exposure to these experiences builds resilience. History has shown that through these experiences, true innovation and progress flourish. Are some of the essential qualities, that remain critical to people’s wellbeing, being filtered out?
When I speak to people, be it young people, business people or others, decisions and expectations are often set on the basis that they shouldn’t fail or carry any risk. Aspiration is often replaced with certainty. But with certainty comes conservatism, which can often lead to underachievement.
So as leaders, I believe it is critical that we encourage aspiration and risk-taking in others. Leaders should provide the experienced support, foresight and reassurance to allow others to manage and accept potential failure, and in the process build resilience.
Our advice should be “Don’t underachieve for fear of failure”.
Accepting potential failure is the prerequisite to overachievement. Resilience is the essential ingredient in realising it.