Ready For A Challenge?

My wonderful daughter-in-law recently challenged me to a push-up contest.  Now, besides being less than half my age…she also happens to be an amazing Cross Fit trainer. I guess by the photo you can tell that I accepted. And while I would like to say that I won…
The way I see it if I was likely to win it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge. Whether on a personal or professional level, a true challenge should test your limits.  It should cause you to reach well beyond what you are sure you can do.  And while it is always fun to win… sometimes it’s just about taking on the challenge.

When I challenge organizations to innovate I often find as much value in the journey of the challenge as in the specific innovations.  Team members often go back to their “day job” with renewed enthusiasm and with a desire to think beyond perceived boundaries.  That is powerful.

Some people need the comfort of taking on tasks that are well within their wheelhouse.  They need to know they can succeed – maybe even to know just how they will complete the task.

I understand that not everyone enjoys a big challenge.  Some people need the comfort of taking on tasks that are well within their wheelhouse.  They need to know they can succeed – maybe even to know just how they will complete the task. These are team members who prefer the “safe zone.”  We need people like these on our teams.  We just can’t afford to have a team full of them.

We also need team members who love a new challenge – risk-takers who thrive on pushing beyond boundaries.  As they break through (perceived) barriers, team members like these can elevate the performance of the organization as a whole. Without the right leadership, they can also cause a lot of organizational stress.

Leaders should ensure that appropriate boundaries are in place to minimize unnecessary stress on the organization.  Here are some things you can do to prepare the organization for a new challenge:

  • Keep the team informed.  People worry less when they feel they are “in the know.”
  • Protect resources from being siphoned away from key initiatives.  Processes should be established to identify and address situations that could cause undue strain on the organization.
  • Be clear about what success looks like.  While a singular goal can create focus, it can also lead those taking on the challenge to become too single-minded in their pursuit of the goal.  Take the time to talk through related success criteria.
  • Stay close… but don’t get in the way.  Regular check-ins can help everyone stay focused. They will also give you the opportunity to assist in breaking down barriers that require your attention.  Just make sure that your desire to stay informed doesn’t unnecessarily burden the team or slow momentum.

Whether you are more comfortable in the “safe zone” or enjoy taking on a new challenge as much as I do, I encourage you to strongly nurture and support the risk takers around you.

So, are you ready for a challenge?


Ric Leutwyler
Ric Leutwyler
MY work journey has taken me from dishwasher to CEO, from fast food to cloud based technology, from Davenport, Iowa to more than 30 countries around the globe. Along the way I have enjoyed leading, learning, contributing, mentoring, strategizing, innovating and giving back. One important lesson learned along the way is that there are opportunities to make a difference in all aspects of our lives. This has made the journey all the more rewarding.

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  1. It need recognize that no risk or action means no gain. In business, taking no risk or action is a recipe for failure, as a person, and as a company. Superstars weigh the differing risks of different alternatives, make a smart decision, and proceed to action. Taking smart risks leads to better productivity and better results sooner.
    The first step that can make the difference in the delicate process of accountability that leads to the autonomy of a team is risk appetite. Risktakers within a team offer a necessary advantage for continued growth and success: creativity