Creating the Weekend
It’s not well-known that Henry Ford created the weekend, but he did. And he made a big sacrifice to make it happen. And it was a huge risk.
Ford was looking for a way to sell more cars, so he decided to create something new: road trips. The hope was that people would find car travel more convenient than train travel, thus creating the need for everyone to have a car. It was genius, except that road trips weren’t appealing to people who worked six days a week—which everyone did in the early 20th century.
So Ford created the weekend by giving up a work day—Saturday. And by giving up Saturday, he cut his productivity. And if it didn’t work, he’d have to ask his employees to come back to work on Saturdays and he’d worry about how the press would handle it and he’d try not to think of how many cars could’ve been made during the extra time off…
But it did work. And Ford’s big risk paid off.
“Why Won’t This Work”
In every job I’ve had, I’ve had ideas on how to do things differently. (I’m left handed. I can’t help it.)
Sometimes I am encouraged to pursue the new ideas. More often than not, I’ve had people poke holes in my ideas, leaving a lot of them dead before I’ve had the opportunity to develop them. My risk level was low, as was my pride.
But I heard something important the other day. It was one of those things that you hear and suddenly you don’t hear anything after it for two minutes because you’re too busy thinking about it.
Instead of asking, “Why won’t this work?” ask “Why will this work?”
So those ideas I had when I was selling shoes or making cold calls, those could’ve been good ideas. They could’ve been great ideas. And, admittedly, they could’ve failed. They could’ve cost that company little more than my paycheck to find out it was a bad idea.
But do you know what doesn’t work at all? Not trying.
The Risk Shift
I read a recent article about Seth Godin and it challenged the traditional thoughts on risk that I’d been told for years.
In the article, Seth points out that, thanks to the advances of technology, the opportunities to take risks are great and the losses from a failed effort won’t necessarily cost risk-takers their house or their entire savings.
But that’s not all the article covered. Seth mentions his most recent book, The Icarus Deception, and how it discusses the duality of risk-taking in today’s world. Normally, there would be two kinds of people: risk-takers and non-risk-takers. But Seth points out that that non-risk-takers are non-risking themselves out of their jobs—because thriving organizations need to take risks.
Think of it this way: non-risk-takers are now considered a risky hire. That’s a complete pendulum swing in the opposite direction for how employees were hired just one generation ago.
This I Believe
I believe that risk is one of the most important values an individual or an organization can have or aspire to.
I believe that risk is what makes some organizations successful, and the lack of risk makes other organization irrelevant.
I believe that risk allows people to grow and learn faster than any classroom could teach them.
I believe that risk is a value to be admired and not avoided.