mouse wearing helmet in front of mouse trap

daredevil-mouseRecently two of our friends from Brazil arrived in Adelaide to make a new life for themselves – they have a good life in Brazil but decided it was time to take a leap of faith and do something completely different.

This made me reflect on the nature of risk and why taking risks, such as moving to a new country, add so much value to our personal and professional lives.

Today in business we are all faced with complexity, constant change and uncertainty. Increasingly we find it difficult to draw on past experience to solve the challenges we face because we don’t have the existing mental models or information to apply to these problems. So the issue becomes not what pre-conditioned approach we can draw on but how we go about re-thinking, re-framing and collaborating.

This is where taking risk today (and I am talking about calculated risk) is so important.

When I was 25 I took my own leap of faith.  I moved to Chile, alone, with very limited Spanish. I ended up working as the South Australian Government Commercial Representative in Chile. What this experience taught me has provided me with valuable skills to thrive in today’s dynamic and challenging business climate.

  • Importance of 1% marginal gains – Learning the word “sopapa” (toilet plunger). One small word…disaster averted.
  • Humility – Not knowing how to count – particularly complicated in Chile because currency is in very high numbers e.g. $AU1 is equivalent to just under 500 Chilean pesos
  • Resilience and flexibility – Having major surgery in a developing country, without family and friends
  • How to listen – Understanding but barely being able to speak a word
  • Acceptance – Embracing the fact that this is just how things are done and that I need to adapt and let go of control

So whether it is moving to a new country, learning a new language, taking up a new sport, or trying sky diving…taking risk today enhances our ability to address challenges through a more adaptive lens… A lens where we don’t have the answers but have the self-belief and agility of mind to embrace change and see the unknown as a great opportunity rather than a threat.