categories: leadership
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August 26th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

15 comments (+ Add)

Risk Takers and Risk Makers

One of the most common risks leaders face when making tough decisions is the risk of criticism and perception. When you step out and try something new, there are often many people just waiting to say, “You’re wrong,” “You’re crazy,” “It will never work,” and “You’re an idiot.” And if it doesn’t work, they are the same people who’ll say “I told you so,” and “I can’t trust you,” (even though they never did).

The irony is that risk takers need these people. They are the ones who actually make it risky. They make it challenging, and in many cases provide the motivation to push through. They are the risk makers.

As frustrated or angry as I can get at no-name, do-nothing critics…they make me a better leader. I need them.

How about you—what effect do critics have on you when you’re considering risks? Are there other areas of leadership where a negative ingredient can make a positive contribution?


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  1. Aug 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Dealing with major criticism for our church planting dream down here in Atlanta. It motivates me as well. However, I have to admit that I don’t enjoy criticism as much as praise. It may help more though!

  2. Aug 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I think you might have hit on something that hits a certain type of personality. There are people who won’t take risks until they are challenged. They need that for fuel. I’m one of those.

    Risk (or lack of) is a big issue for the church (all Gods people). Last week some the Super Average Podcast we talked all about the idea of risk -

    I’d love to see more people take more good risks from church leaders to those who just occasionally sit in the pews.

  3. Aug 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    This is an extremely valuable insight since criticism is such a norm with leadership. We can always remind ourselves that if we look at the Bible we are in good company but that doesn’t make it any easier. I like the thought of facing each criticism as a challenge to learn and excel. As hard as it is emotionally, I tell people if you don’t tell me what’s wrong, it can’t be fixed. Likewise, if there were no obstacles we would never rise to overcome them.

  4. 4Bryon Leonard
    Aug 26, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Didn’t God say something like fearnot for I am with you, and you will be persicuted (critisized, or something like that. Wouldn’t it be a testimony if we took a risk and stood on faith?

  5. Aug 26, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    If you listened to Michael Phelps in the Olympics, he said that critics and challengers to his vision were exactly what motivated him more than anything else.

  6. 6Cheryl Jane Dempsey
    Aug 26, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Upon reflection, the Prayer of Jabez has motivated me to dare to move beyond my personal boundaries, and extend myself to experience spiritual growth and maturity beyond my comfort zone.Certainly, not an easy undertaking , but I have realized a very rewarding one.My journey is a Faith walk, and I expect that there will be risks, choices, and challenges along the way., I have grown the most, I found, in the midst of those risks, challenges, and difficult choices.and I thank GOD for every one of them.. for without these “bumps in the road” , I would’nt be who I have become today.. ..I believe, a better person. So yes, I would agree, much good comes from every adverse experience.. for me, I got to know JESUS a lot better during those times, and we have become much closer.. he truly is my very best friend for ever and ever, and for everything that has happened to me up until now I am GRATEFUL.!Thanks be to GOD.

  7. Aug 26, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    criticism is what forces me to return to the root of why i’m doing it in the first place. keeps me centered. praise (as much as i love it) can knock me off-focus and tempt me into thinking i had anything to do with it in the first place.

  8. Aug 26, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Unfortunately, I never leave home without my (worst) inner critic. I spank him with John Maxwell - definately been helping me this week.

  9. Aug 26, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    seems to me the critics and naysayers don’t have enough faith that God can do anything through anyone. i love when someone says i can’t do something. i tell them, “you’re right but God can through me.”

  10. Aug 26, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    if it’s a risk that is the purpose of our movement, or to silence the critics…we are off base from the start. We should lead out of Godly insanity, not our own.

  11. Aug 27, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Yes. The negative stuff makes me work out harder and thus increases my health. But it also drives me to seek God and make sure that I know that I know what he has said.

  12. Aug 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    being around negative people in general make me want to be that much more of a positive person - so in that sense, they help me too.

    Great way to look at this and make the most of it - since we can’t kill people that want to bring us down! Just kidding……..

  13. Aug 27, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    We have to remember that resistance is part of the process of innovation. There are those that see it as their job to defend the status quo… and when we push for change, that puts us in their sights.

    Jesus faced this (Mk. 11:28, Jn. 11:48); as did Paul (Acts 19:27). Opposition is a normal result of leadership, vision and innovation because, as John Maxwell puts it, “Leadership, just like a magnet, attracts some and repels others.”

  14. 14Barry Armstrong
    Aug 28, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Criticism from outside your circle is relatively easy to deal with, constructive or not. From within your circle, well meaning or not, is more of a challenge, especially if you don’t see what they see. How have you dealt with this?