Starting something new can be exciting. It might be something big like a product launch or a new project at work. It might be moving to a new house or city. It might be writing a book or starting a graduate degree. Or, it might be something small like reading a book, cleaning a closet, or writing a letter to an old friend. In any case, when I start something new, I get a little bit of a rush from the anticipation of the things that might be. New people to meet. New things to learn. Problems to solve and things to make better. I look forward to learning something about myself and discovering what I didn’t know about others. Starting something new opens up so many possibilities.
Starting something new, especially big things, carries a certain amount of risk. That’s rather intuitive. However, most of us don’t take the time to assess that risk and understand it. If you’re like me, the excitement of the new opportunity can blind us to those risks. In fact, I think most leaders suffer this blindness. It’s part of what shapes us as leaders, though.
By taking on new challenges we learn about ourselves, about others, and about how our world works.
Nevertheless, there is wisdom in measuring the opportunity and the associated risks. Here are some questions to help you do that.
Does this opportunity…
Give me a way to express my “wiring” and strengths? Will I be able to take advantage of my greatest abilities and tap into that source of endless energy that comes from strengths-based work?
Put me in a position to develop other leaders? Leaders develop leaders. The best opportunities facilitate that principle.
Compromise my commitment to other responsibilities? Be careful here. Leaders are notoriously self-deceived about their true effective capacity. Whatever you think your limit is, my advice is to aim at 85-90% of that. If you’re not sure how to read your capacity, talk to your spouse or whomever knows you best.
Align with your “motivated role”? What’s that? Read my article, What Project Role Do You Play? This single concept may be the most eye opening of all the questions I have posted here. Don’t ignore this point.
Help me make a real difference for others? Leaders are presented with lots of interesting opportunities. Many of them come out of the pet-project closet of other leaders. Before you sign on, make sure this opportunity is a solid, best-in-class idea that has a lasting impact.
Align with my values, support my mission, and move my vision forward? This really should be your first evaluation point. If the answer is No to any of these questions, stop. Don’t do it.
Help me grow? If it doesn’t, it will be too easy. Your new opportunity should stretch you in a significant way: knowledge, character, relationships, experience,… It needs to be uncomfortable or hard in some way. This will make you a better leader.
There is nothing special about this list. Customize it. Make your own questions. Delete some of mine. The point is that when that new thing comes your way and you get that adrenaline rush thinking about the possibilities,…
Study the opportunity.
Assess it carefully with tough questions.
Then decide and stick to your choice.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.