Justice In Action

During the 1980 presidential campaign, candidate Ronald Reagan vowed, if elected, to appoint the first woman to the United States Supreme Court. Six months after his inauguration, President Reagan kept his promise ? nominating a member of the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Senate soon confirmed her by a vote of 99-0.

Recently, Sandra Day O'Connor sent a short letter to the current Chief Executive announcing her retirement: "It has been a great privilege, indeed, to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms. I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the court and its role under our constitutional structure."

President Reagan made history by appointing a woman to the Supreme Court. Justice O'Connor made her own history by casting the deciding vote on 136 cases, including some highly emotional issues. The willingness of both the president and the justice to take risks helped change the country.

Success Handler Action: Robert F. Kennedy said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly ever achieve greatly." As an entrepreneur, you took a leap of faith by starting your small business. If you've been at it for a while, are you still willing to take big risks, or do you often find yourself deadlocked on difficult decisions? After you finish reading this E-Newsletter, use these questions to determine if you're becoming more or less of a risk-taker:

~ Where are the innovative ideas in your industry, and are you ahead or behind the curve?

~ When was the last time you introduced a new product/service or bought new equipment?

~ Who do you turn to for guidance, and how often do you consult with them?

~ What is your reaction when you hear other business owners talk about their latest initiatives?

~ How often do you read magazines like "Fast Company" or visit leading-edge Websites?

One of the biggest reasons people take less risk as they get more successful is the fear of losing what they worked so hard to gain. When you had nothing, there was nothing to have taken away. However, if you're not continuing to pursue the edge in your small business ? "placing enough interesting, freakish, long shot, weirdo bets," in the words of management guru Tom Peters ? then you are creating a weakness that your competition can exploit.

Success Handler Action: With your team, discuss the opportunities awaiting you in the second half of the year. Seek their input on some of the decisions you've been avoiding because you're concerned about the risk. Also, encourage your team members to take their own risks, so they can grow. Here are five ways to help them start acting like risk-takers:

1. Explain the importance of change, and assure them it's normal to fear new approaches.

2. Coach team members on how to think like an entrepreneur and take ownership of their individual roles.

3. Give them more responsibility, grooming them as leaders.

4. Challenge them to look for new and better ways to do things.

5. Allow them to fail occasionally?and support them when they do.

Growing up on her grandfather's 200,000 acre cattle ranch in Arizona, Sandra Day O'Connor learned the importance of hard work and discipline. Upon graduating third in her class from Stanford law school in 1952, she couldn't get a job in Arizona, because no private firm would take the risk of hiring a woman. She credits these experiences as shaping her later judicial opinions.

Justice O'Connor said, "Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded." While you most likely will never serve on the Supreme Court, the people you serve every day in your small business are counting on you to keep moving forward and being innovative. Commit once again to being the entrepreneur you are, and start being the risk-taker you once were.

Copyright © 2005 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (http://www.successhandler.com), and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

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