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‘Hang your balls out there’ … that’s how you become great

Here’s a great story for you, courtesy of Jean Case, chair of the National Geographic Society and author of Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthrough and Purpose. I’m quoting it from her book verbatim:

“(Jeff Bezos) was a young hedge fund manager in 1994 when he told his parents about his idea to start an Internet company. His father’s first question was, ‘What’s the Internet?’ But Jeff was captivated by the numbers. After reading that the Internet had grown 2,300 percent in one year, Jeff looked around for a product to launch, researching twenty different categories before settling on books. His parents were his first investors, handing over most of their savings. They weren’t betting on the idea, Jeff said later, because they didn’t understand the idea. They were betting on their son — even after he warned them that there was a 70 percent chance they’d lose their entire investment.

“Jeff didn’t know how his venture would turn out when he left his lucrative Wall Street career to jump into the emerging tech market. But as he later explained, ‘… I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event. When I thought about it that way … it was incredibly easy to make the decision.’ ”

The question too many of us ask ourselves when faced with new, unknown, potentially groundbreaking, potentially career-ending initiatives is this: “What’s the ROI? What will I make by making this move? Where’s the tried-and-true blueprint I can follow to ensure this will be worth the risk?”

In a world as complex and chaotic as this, that’s the wrong question to be asking. That blueprint doesn’t exist. To succeed, you’ll have to build that blueprint as you go along.

A better question instead is, “What’s the RONI? What’s the risk of not investing?” Today, that risk is greater than ever before.

Nobody wants to be the one who puts everything on the line and fails … but what if you put everything on the line and succeed?

“If it can be done, it will be done,” says world-renowned futurist Daniel Burrus, “and if you don’t do it, somebody else will.”

Remember that great line from the FedEx employee in Jerry Maquire?

Indeed. Do that thing that scares you. Take that risk.

In a world this chaotic, that’s how you become great.

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