Running with Scissors & Other Risky Ideas

Dear Christian Radio,

Since you were little, everyone has been trying like the dickens to get you to minimize risk. Your mom told you not to take such big bites to avoid the risk of choking. Your teacher told you to write your name at the top of your paper first, so you wouldn’t forget to do it later. Likewise, the lifeguard at the community pool blew his whistle at you and shouted, “Walk, don’t run!” to keep you from doing a face-plant on the concrete. The list of risk minimizing admonishments goes on and on. As they pertain to your own preservation, a lot of those warnings were both necessary and important. Even so, I wonder if being told, “Be careful,” so often in our lives is the reason why most of us struggle with taking risks today. As a result, risk avoidance has become one of the biggest barriers impeding the advancement of great causes throughout the world.

Mark my words. You cannot play it safe forever. Sooner or later, your ministry is going to be at a crossroads. You will have to wet your finger, stick it in the wind, and decide which way to go.  You will have to take risks, or you will not survive.

Risk-taking is part of leadership. It is part of life. Try as you may, it can’t be avoided just because it makes us uncomfortable. Certainly, you cannot see what is behind every corner, nor can you test your way to safety and security though focus groups alone. At some point, you have to go with your gut.

Risk-taking is essential for three main reasons:

  1. To avoid the paralysis of analysis. “Every opportunity has a shelf life.” Write those words down and put them within view of your desk. You may love the process of gathering facts and sorting through data, but somewhere along the way you’ll still be parsing things out long after the opportunity has passed you by. Risk-taking is the force that moves you when a reasonable amount of data has been consumed. It’s the sparkplug that gives your information ignition.
  2. To capitalize on your intuition. The answer you’re looking for might be right under your nose…or just above it. The truth is, deep within all of us, the Creator God has endowed us with intuition. For years, our brains have been gathering information and translating them into patterns…making them easier to spot. This has given each of us the ability to feel a solution, even before we think of it. More often than not, our intuition is right. Acting on it can give us a competitive edge.
  3. To truly innovate. Electricity in the home, personal computing, and machines capable of flight: every major innovation that has come to pass required a remarkable level of risk-taking for all involved. Both Edison and Tesla took risks…so did Jobs and Gates. The Wright Brothers not only took the risk of invention, but also of first flight. So, what is the next great idea to advance Christian media? What would happen if we deemed sharing the Gospel, feeding the starving or aiding the hurting people “too risky?” The potential consequences of avoidance behavior are not hard to imagine. In contrast, we can change the world by simply accepting risk, weighing its costs against its benefits, and ultimately unshackling ourselves from forces that hold us back.

It’s time for Christian radio to take more risks. We should learn to embrace the unknown and challenge the prevailing wisdom. Now is the time for acting on well-kept intuition. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  • Start small. Begin exercising your risk-taking in small, manageable ways. Start with less important matters as a way to work on your intuition. Strengthen your instincts by testing them against the trivial stuff before you begin taking on risks that will have a lasting impact on your ministry.
  • Study historical and Biblical leaders. Much can be learned from intuitive, risk-takers from our past. There are countless examples from the Bible including: Jesus, Joshua, and The Apostle Paul. Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison are two great American picks. These risk-takers made things happen. Setting Jesus apart for obvious reasons, these aforementioned leaders turned their mistakes into lessons from which we can all learn. The more you read about these and other like-minded individuals, the more you will understand why risk-taking is a necessary aspect of great leadership.
  • Add innovators to your team. Innovators are natural risk-takers. These calculating team members can help you become more comfortable with appropriate risk-taking. They can also act as a soundboard, which can aid you in the development of your own intuition. Plodding, analytical personalities should empower team members to push them toward making decisions within a stated time frame.

I’ve known many great analytical leaders in Christian radio. No doubt, some of them are likely shouting me down as they read these words. It’s not my intention to be controversial. However, I do believe that as an industry too many of us are playing it safe. Friends, we are on borrowed time. Still yet, many leaders within Christian radio are holding onto the past at a time when we all need to be reinventing ourselves.

Disagree? Let me know at [email protected]. If you can convince me, we may post your POV in an upcoming DCR blog. Then again, why risk it? 😉

ENCW–

Jerry Grimes
Vice President of Creative Services
Positive Alternative Radio

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