“Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes!”: Risk vs. Gamble

I live in Kentucky. Horses. Bourbon. Bluegrass. Big Blue Nation. I love it here.

We legalized gambling last year — an interesting move for a state that ranks among the lowest in average household income. But, what the heck!? Gamble big and you could win big, right?! When I’m watching TV or listening to Spotify, that’s what the big-name stars advertising for the sportsbooks tell me. Pretty convincing. Exciting too. If I listen long enough, I could even start to believe them. “I’m going to be a millionaire!”

Wait a minute…

On second thought, no thanks. My family deserves better from me. And if I were to gamble big, I could do much more harm than good to them. Irreparable harm. No thanks. I owe my family better leadership decisions than that. I’m willing to take some calculated risks for them, but I’m not willing to gamble.

If you’ve read this far, leaders, I think you get the point. Your team deserves your best decision-making efforts. There are plenty of opportunities revealed to you that might be advantageous to your team. You see them all the time. Some require your willingness to assume a little risk. Some are huge gambles. What’s the difference? Simply put, if you risk something and fail, you can recover from it quickly. If you gamble something and fail, however, recovery is unlikely.

Make no mistake, leaders. Your team needs you to assume calculated risk on their behalf. Do not shy away from risk. Just be sure to assume risk in an informed manner. Consider those things that might be affected by a negative outcome. Finances. Reputation. Culture. How will these be affected by either success or failure? If you’re comfortable with the risk, take it.

And if you are willing to lose your team’s reputation, culture, or finances, go ahead: gamble them. Roll the dice. “Mama needs a new pair of shoes!”

“Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes!”: Risk vs. Gamble was originally published in Horizon Performance on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.