I've always considered myself quite bold when it comes to business and risk-taking. I can live with failing a few times, knowing that I will eventually be successful because I am determined to be.
I've found a like-minded colleague in Jeffrey Hayzlett, host of Bloomberg Television's "C-Suite With Jeffrey Hayzlett" and author of an inspirational new book, "Think Big, Act Bigger."
Hayzlett embraces big and bold without apology or inhibition. "Thinking big and acting bigger is all about action and attitude: being fearless and bold, steamrolling obstacles, ignoring perceived limitations, and even being a little irrational and pigheaded at times," he writes. "I've learned it is about being relentless in all I do but especially trusting in who I am because I can."
He shared an important philosophy in an earlier book, "Running the Gauntlet," where he wrote: "No one is going to die from changes you make in business." He has since refined that idea, but the importance of the message remains.
He shares five important lessons in that vein:
-- No one is going to die when you think big and act bigger, so get over yourself.
-- Stop overthinking things, coming up with reasons not to do something and then playing it safe. You still might fail. And that's OK.
-- Succeeding fast is better than failing fast: Stop wearing failure as a badge of honor.
-- Passion fuels that momentum and drowns out the negative voices in your head.
-- Passion can override your fears and inhibitions, but it cannot override facts. Yet it can also lead to overindulgence, obsession and lost perspective.
"Passion comes from our hearts and guts, not our heads," he continues. "It's a strong emotion and can lead us into bad decisions and questionable actions. But it is the adrenaline we need to succeed."
My opinion is that it's OK to be passionate, but you better be good at what you're passionate about.
Hayzlett says successful leaders have to strongly identify with what they don't want as well as what they do want. Being genuine in character makes people willing to follow them even when they are pigheaded or irrational.
Does that ever strike a chord with me! As long as people know what to expect from me and I live up to my ideals, I can honestly say that while my staff may wonder what I am up to, they support my actions almost 100 percent of the time. They assume I have some information or experience that is guiding my decisions. That's how you earn trust, and it's critical that you don't abuse it.
Hayzlett's friend Greg Lucier, the former CEO of Life Technologies, introduced him to the term "irrational leadership," explaining that you have to be so far out there sometimes to pull people along to where you want them to go. Hayzlettt writes: "I had said for years that leaders need to create tension and results by pushing farther and farther to move the rest of their teams in that direction. Now I had a name for it."
"Think Big, Act Bigger" is full of no-nonsense lessons that even successful leaders should study and review to keep their perspective. One of my favorites is the following story, which Hayzlett tells in a chapter about the importance of maintaining a constant state of awareness: On a fishing trip to Canada, Hayzlett's guide served a specific brand of blueberry jam, which came in a can, and which he liked so much that he bought a case and shipped it home to South Dakota at a very high price.
His wife was stunned. Why would he do that? Despite his best explanation about the special jam, she was unimpressed and teased him about it over the next couple of weeks.
On a trip to their local supermarket together, she needled him again about his expensive purchase. He responded, telling her that she really didn't understand how special this jam really was. The clincher: "You can't get this anywhere else ..."
And that's when she told him to turn around. There, on the shelf, was his prized jam -- for $2 a can. A constant state of awareness, indeed!
Mackay’s Moral: Bigger risks reap bigger rewards.