Guest Post

A Leap of Faith

by Denise Lee Yohn
10/19/2009

The last time I nearly lost my nerve I was standing on a platform, 150 feet above the Kawarau River in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was the site of the world's original bungy jump and I was about to plunge headfirst in a freefall with two ropes and a harness as insurance that I wasn't about to die.

In the moment before I jumped, I hesitated — and that split-second pause almost became my undoing. I almost turned right around and walked off the platform. In that moment, I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life: don't second-guess myself. Now, I'm not advocating reckless actions or thoughtless decision-making. I had adequately prepared for my inaugural bungy jump, doing all the research to ensure it was what I wanted to do and how/when/where I wanted to do it. In business, we must also do the rigorous research and analyses to evaluate the best course of action. But once we have, we should move forward — no looking back. With the market showing signs of recovery, now is not the time to hesitate. An untimely delay could mean missing out on a prime market opportunity.

There are a couple of other takeaways from my brief crazy mid-life-crisis adventure that apply to today's business climate. As I said, I almost walked away before jumping — but I didn't. You know why? Truthfully, it was two reasons: greed and pride. I realized that I had paid far too much money for the chance to jump and there were far too many people watching from the observation deck for me to not do it. While neither greed nor pride is an admirable motivation for any endeavor, both relate to ways we can have the courage to make bold moves today.

Greed may be distasteful, but being revenue-minded is not. Business leaders need to be re-oriented to adopt a growth mindset. While not forsaking the diligent cost-management that has served us well in these difficult times, we must look for — and seize — ways to drive new top-line growth. We should not settle for survival; we should be seeking to surpass our competitors and our own past performance.

Likewise, pride that stems from arrogance may be toxic, but pride that comes from confidence can be the fuel we need to jumpstart our recovery. We must regain our confidence by re-evaluating the value we deliver to customers and the way we do business — and ensuring that both are distinctive, sustainable, and valuable. Once we do so, we should have the confidence in ourselves and our people to drive innovation, encourage calculated risk-taking, and support an assertive market position.

Looking back on my first encounter with bungy-jumping, I am so grateful I took the plunge. There is nothing more rewarding than stepping out with courage — and a little craziness — and getting to experience the thrill of a lifetime. I believe there is a similar ride awaiting business leaders today. And I expect years from now, some of us will be able to look back and feel grateful for the leaps of faith we took.

Denise Lee Yohn has been inspiring and teaching companies how to operationalize their brands to grow their businesses for over 20 years. World-class brands including Sony, Frito-Lay, Burger King, and Nautica have called on Denise, an established speaker, author, and Brand as Business™ consulting partner.

  1. […] Steve McKee has started a great project, Find Your Nerve, “a grassroots effort to help get the economy moving again.”  Each business day of the fourth quarter features a post from someone about jumpstarting the recovery.  Today was my day:  please check out “A Leap of Faith.” […]

    Pingback by find your nerve | denise lee yohn: brand as business bites™ — 10/19/2009 @ 4:27 PM

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