Ok is not ok

ok is not ok.jpgThank you to Alton Byrd for posting this online. Alton was one of my first sporting heroes, the greatest player I ever saw in British Basketball.

He and I were both fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of the late, great Ed Percival, who Alton calls his rabbi, I call simply “Yoda”. I consider Ed my greatest guide and mentor, as does Roger Philby, who wrote this eulogy:  “My Hero – Ed Percival”.

My first significant interaction with Ed was when I’d said something in a group that had overpowered the conversation. In a break, I apologised and told him I’d “dial it back”. Ed was furious. He rose up to his considerable height, stepped in towards me, and said : “don’t you EVER{expletive deleted} do that ! This world needs your full self !”. Ed’s famous phrase was “Be More You”, and that simple phrase can be life-changing.

So, the phrase “ok.. is not ok” comes to mind when I read what Alton posted.

I asked Alton for his thoughts around his post : “My not accepting “ok” came from my ability to dream and my encouragement from my mom to Think Big. I never would have considered living in NY, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Atlanta without the Dream Big encouragement. Be encouraged about what is ahead. See your big picture and match your passion with your big picture. You will be amazed at your results.”

Wise words, Brother Byrd.

We all have the choice to live an “ok” life, to lead an “ok” business, to shine a little, but not risk shining and burning out. Have you, will you “risk absolutely everything you’ve got for the smallest chance that something absolutely amazing could happen” ?.

All of this is a choice. Not everybody who risks everything achieves something absolutely amazing. What is for sure is that 100% of those who do not try won’t.

Neil Young said : “It’s better to burn out, Than to fade away” and Kurt Cobain included that in his suicide note.

What will your legacy be ? How much does it matter to you ?

Where do you sit on the spectrum of risk ? What impact as a leaders does that have on you and your business ?

In our fast changing world, for those who lead businesses, staying “ok”, staying in the comfort zone, is almost certainly a recipe for failure. The world of the CRO (Chief Risk Officer) is rapidly changing from a focus on operational risks that can be measured, to the risk of the “road not taken”, and I’ll close with that for you to consider.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost



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