Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship rocket exploded. Maybe not quite the result they’d want. What’s enlightening is their reframe.

The SpaceX engineers class the mission a success. They test early and often. They’re not afraid to break things.

Just the fact the rocket left the launch pad is a big win. Musk tweeted, “Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”

Now obviously we’re not launching rockets or taking that level of risk in our businesses. But it still begs the question. What’s your appetite for risk? What are you willing to do in your business?

What fears could be holding you back?

No innovation occurs unless we try things. And it’s a given, not all of them work.

Over the years I’ve seen people paralyzed by the fear of risk and making bad decisions.

I vividly remember speaking with an inventor who created a black foam which could be sprayed onto a solar system in the event of a house fire. The foam would instantly harden and stop the conduction of electricity – which meant the firefighters could spray water without fear of electrocution.

He refused to take it to market as he thought the idea would be ripped off by another company overseas.

I said, “Get it out there. First mover advantage.” But no, fear held him back. And we all miss out.

A participant in our Business Round Table spoke about his risk tolerance. What level of risk was he personally willing to bear with a project – especially when it came to delegating delivery tasks.

What constraints did he need to put in place? What level of autonomy should he give.

Another participant spoke about always hiring the best people possible. Surrounding himself with people better than himself and letting them get on with it.

Yes, mistakes would be made. And that’s what people learn from. He is willing to risk these as he knows unless he elevates people, he’ll always have to do the work himself.

Leadership is about understanding yourself. Your level of risk tolerance. Both for yourself and your business. Not overthinking and taking action as appropriate.

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