Have you ever sat in a staff meeting or committee that you’re on and listened to one great idea after another get shot down by the crowd? If it’s your ideas getting shot down, then you definitely noticed! But if it was you shooting them down, then it probably just felt like feedback – or honest concerns about how a plan could get roadblocked. We human beings are very adept at looking at a situation and spotting everything that can possibly go wrong. It’s one reason we are so adaptable and why we have survived as a species for so long. We look at everything as a puzzle needing to be solved, and forecasting where the roadblocks are, we can avoid them – or choose another path. This is what I call the INR – Immediate Negative Response.
Sadly, however, while your INR keeps you safe from obstacles and bad outcomes, it can also keep you “safe” from your ability to GSD (get stuff done) – and it just might keep you from reaching some of the best success stories of your life. Why? Because if you see a block and immediately become negative, instead of weighing the big picture, you could cross off some great opportunities in your life.
What do you do to combat that tricky INR? Here’s my Risk Taker’s Tool to help you get started.
Challenging the Immediate Negative Response (INR)
First, determine some risks you’ll try in order to challenge any INR tendencies you may have. Think of some positive risks that sound appealing. Include different types of risks. Consider physical, social, and intellectual events or activities. For example, physical risks might be rock-climbing, surfing, or skydiving. Social risks include taking a dance class, throwing a party, or attending a singles event. Intellectual risk-taking might entail enrolling in a foreign language or academic class, joining Toastmasters, or submitting an article to your local paper or alumni newsletter. If fear is holding you back—and isn’t that what always holds us back?
Next, ask yourself these challenge questions:
1. What’s the worst that could happen? 2. How likely is that worst-case scenario? 3. If it did happen, how well could you handle it?
If you’re afraid someone will laugh at you on the dance floor, it may be somewhat likely, but will it really matter? Probably not. Say you’re considering skydiving, but you’re scared. Death is definitely a fate worse than someone laughing at your foxtrot, but it’s not very likely. The odds that you’ll die while skydiving are actually pretty slim—27 people die each year out of 3.2 million dives. Can you handle that? (If not, scale it back a little and find a challenge that doesn’t involve leaping from an airplane!)
Finally, add some accountability factors. When, where, and with whom will you commit to taking this risk? Put it on your calendar!