Now Is the Time to Take Professional Risks

Written By: STEVE HALL
POSTED ON October 28, 2020

When I was a child not much would get me moving faster and doing more things outside of my comfort zone than peers daring me. Granted, many times these dares weren’t the wisest actions to take, but peer pressure will make you do some amazing things. 

There is no better case for how far a dare can take you than in the 1983 classic movie A Christmas Story. In one scene a young boy named Flick has the gauntlet laid down for him. After some bantering back and forth, the challenger, Schwartz, lays down the largest of all dares: the triple-dog-dare. This kind of daring challenges your bravery along with your entire social status and can make people do things they normally wouldn’t. In the scene Flick falls for the bait and ends up in the brutal cold with his tongue stuck to a frozen metal flagpole while everyone else runs away. Not exactly the result he wanted.  

What I am going for in this article is not to get you to take unwise actions, but rather I want to work on getting you to take some action. If that means I have to use childish dares to make that happen, so be it. So, here goes. I dare you to take action, I’m going to up the ante and double-dog-dare you to take action. Forget that, I’m going to go all-in and triple-dog-dare you to take action.

Yes, I am directly challenging you. 

Here is a list of three items, and you can choose which one you want to accept the dare for, or maybe you’re just tough enough to do all three!

  1. Have the “tough” conversation with “that” employee. Most departments have one employee that just doesn’t get it. Maybe their production is too low, maybe their attitude is all wrong, maybe their attendance or punctuality is deficient. Whatever the reason, you have deemed them to be disruptive to the department. Yet, as the manager, you have procrastinated having the tough talk with them. It may be that you don’t like conflict. It may be that you are afraid of losing the person. It may be that you have already had to cut other underperforming staff during the COVID disruption and “at least this person is putting up some numbers, even if they are a problem to deal with.” You also know in your heart that the conversation must happen, but it has not. Whatever the reason you haven’t addressed the person, I triple-dog-dare you to face reality and do it today!

  2. Meet with your boss and admit something that you don’t know or understand. People never want to admit they don’t know something. Yet, if the people who know more than we do are unaware of our deficiency they can’t ever help us improve. If you’re not sure of how to improve profitability, margins, growth, or whatever, talk with your supervisor and be direct. Show vulnerability and a true desire to learn. They will appreciate honesty and when done properly it will increase the respect they have for you as a manager. It will show that you want to learn, not just be a smoke-blowing know-it-all who does not know it all. I triple-dog-dare you to have an honest relationship with your boss.

  3. Take charge of your career. Take time from your schedule and register and attend a training class, seminar, virtual class, webinar or another forum for learning. Since the onset of COVID, there have been more opportunities for remote learning than at any other time that I can remember. The abundance of information sharing has been one bright spot in this very trying year. Or, consider another option and buy a book on business and leadership. Yes, an actual hardcover without pictures, and read it. OK, if you cannot face a hardcover, then download an audiobook! Take the steps to learn how to become a better leader of your people. If you don’t take charge of improving your knowledge base then who will? Read the book within the next 30 days, and highlight items that jump out to you. If you’re not sure what a good book would be, just email me and I will give you a few suggestions. Do whatever it takes to improve yourself. I triple-dog-dare you to get started on the path of self-improvement within the next seven days.

There it is, childish dares. I bet that just by reading this article you’ve gotten emotionally worked up and probably a bit defensive as you think about your career. Something written, by someone that you have probably never met, challenged you and you are ready to defend yourself and prove to them that you can do it. Hey, if that’s what it takes to get you in action, then I’ve done my job!