Thursday, 13 August 2015

“Why do People Play Safe When they Become More Successful?” ―Professor M.S.Rao

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ―Steve Jobs

It is often observed that majority of the successful people play safe when they become more successful. In fact, people expect more from such successful people. Unfortunately, the successful play very safe. In fact, the reverse must be true.  Let us explore the reasons in this post.  

Generally people are scared of various things such as fear of failure, criticism, old age, poverty, ill health, and death to name a few. As a result, they fail to explore and experiment.  Mostly it is the fear of failure and criticism that prevent people from taking risks and exploring new avenues. When we look at many inventions, they are the outcome of successive failures. The inventors failed many times and learned lessons. They identified what did not work and changed their strategies to achieve positive outcomes ultimately. If Edison didn’t risk, we wouldn’t have had electric bulb. If Graham Bell didn’t risk, we wouldn’t have had telephone. If Col Sanders didn’t risk, we wouldn’t have seen KFC. Similarly, there are several turnaround leaders who turned around ailing global organizations successfully.  For example, if Alan Mulally didn’t risk, Ford wouldn’t have been turned around. If Carlos Ghosn didn’t risk, Renault-Nissan wouldn’t have been turned around. If Lou Gerstner didn’t risk, IBM wouldn’t have been turned around. If Steve Jobs were not brought back to the board, the Apple wouldn’t have been turned around. It is obvious from these inspiring leaders that it is essential to take risk in life.  We cannot expect all of our experiments to be successful as most of them would fail. But we must learn lessons from failures to explore and experiment unchartered paths to become trailblazers. Remember, life is worth living if it has challenges.

Let us look at some of the other reasons why successful people play safe rather than exploring new territories. Basically these successful people don’t want to lose what they have. When people don’t have anything, they can go to any extent to take risks as they have nothing to lose. On the other hand, when people have everything they are more careful in taking risks. Secondly, the expectations of the stakeholders have gone up globally. People want more for less. They want better than what they have. Hence, it is tough to rise up to the expectations and aspirations of the people. Thirdly, some of the high achievers have lots of internal insecurities which they don’t reveal. These unfounded insecurities prevent them from exploring new territories.

The takeaways from this article is successful people must not worry too much about what they have achieved. They must explore and experiment constantly to achieve greater success. They must reinvent constantly to rise up to the expectations of all stakeholders. They must learn, unlearn and relearn to stay head of times to stand out as great achievers to inspire the world.

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” ―Steve Jobs

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Life is great!

Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World in 2013
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Twitter: @professormsrao  
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL:

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