When I was in school a teacher would ask a question and look for one answer; the right answer. After years of these inquisitions my fellow students and I learned to keep quiet unless we thought we knew THE answer. Wild guesses were not appreciated. You didn’t get an E for effort. This modus operandi has carried over into the work life of many folks. Many people have found success in this behavior. Don’t open your mouth until you’re sure you know the RIGHT answer. Don’t do anything until you’re sure it’s THE right course of action.
In stable times this was a sound strategy. For hundreds of years we conducted business as usual. The way our fathers before us and their fathers before them conducted business. Unfortunately
in today’s world of uncertainty, this conservative approach has become the riskiest.
The primary reason this reliance upon THE right answer is problematic is it assumes there is only one answer to a question. In this scenario when you find an answer that works, you stop looking for other possible answers. And while the answer found may be a good answer, there may be better answers.
The second reason this tactic is insufficient for the demands of today is if you believe there is only one right answer then you hesitate to take action if you don’t think you know that one right answer.
This brings to mind one of my dad’s favorite sayings that I quote regularly, “Do something! I can fix wrong. I can’t fix nothing.”
With these words in mind, I whole heartedly encourage you to do something. Take small risks. Initiate pilot projects. Test your ideas. Make mistakes quickly and then learn from your mistakes and try again.
Leaders initiate change, sustain change and grow young leaders. Because our actions speak louder than our words, the most effective way to grow young leaders is to demonstrate the behavior we want to see.
So, do something; even if the results aren’t perfect, the odds are they’ll do until we can do better.