written by Courtney Lynch

We’re told most of our lives that growth is joyful, risk is scary, and if you’re just coasting, you’re lazy.

These three common assumptions are full of misconceptions. As someone who’s had the privilege of coaching talented professionals, I’ve often seen the challenge of growth, the value of risk, and how coasting can be your reward earned for climbing a big hill.

Leadership requires us to be better than our instincts. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to our assumptions and consider the inverse.

When we talk about growth, we typically only focus on how positive it is. Yet with growth comes increased awareness of challenges, short-comings, and aspects of our lives that are lacking. That awareness can bring disillusionment, struggle, and the wish to unlearn what has now been seen too clearly. Yes, growth can lead to joy. The path through any growth experience, though, can be difficult. My guidance isn’t to shy away from growth; embrace it but understand the process. It’ll better prepare you for the journey.

So, if some of the most positive aspects of life, like growth, have a challenging flip side, it makes sense that some of the things we perceive as negative have a surprising upside. Take risk for example.

In business we’re taught to mitigate risk. Yet, in life, taking a risk is always the bridge between where you are today and where you want to be. It’s not something to avoid, it’s what you must embrace to succeed in ways that matter most to you. Risk is acting in the face of uncertainty. It’s something we’ve all been forced to do time and time again this past year – at work and in life. You’ll be better off as a leader if you apply what you’ve learned to taking risks for joy, impact, and well-being.

This leads us to the third misconception.

I often see leaders having a hard time embracing the “consequences” of their hard work and creative effort. They attack a challenge, but after it passes, they’re often uncomfortable with the momentum they’ve earned. This is called coasting. It’s the time when you loosen your grip a bit and enjoy your success. When you’re coasting and things are going your way, savor the season. Embracing success can be as challenging as overcoming obstacles.

Surviving this past year has not been easy for any of us. We’ve all experienced loss, pain, and hardship. Let’s have the courage to realize the value of risk in our lives, push through the often surprising pain of growth, and enjoy the momentum that comes from moving through challenge.

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