Become More Daring: 7 Risks Any Leader Can Take Today

The problem with many leaders is that there is a gap between what they want to see happen and what they will do today.

We dream of a radical new future, but then we answer email all day, go to meetings, inhale caffeine and go home before it’s too late with far too much of whatever-we-did-today (what did I do again today?) leftover for a boring repeat tomorrow.

To put this as eloquently as possible, this stinks.

To accomplish a radically new future, you will have to do radically different things.

And this scares the socks off of most of us. After all, risk is for risk-takers, and many of us are not crazy risk-takers.

But what if you could begin to change that starting…today?


The End of the Road for the Timid And Fearful is Not Awesome

Before we get into how to break this pattern of leadership monotony, let’s look at why courage, risk -taking and daring matter in leadership.

It’s simple. If you fail to take risks in your leadership,

Your organization will suffer from few breakthroughs and likely continue a path to decline and irrelevance.

You will likely never leave leadership with any sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.

I completely understand that underneath a lack of courage is often fear.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a fearful person and a lazy person?  The writer of Proverbs shows us where that lands, knowing that fear and laziness are cousins. While the motivation is different, the outcome is often indistinguishable.

I’m not saying you should be a reckless crazy person, but you probably need to be more of one than are you presently.

Let’s face it, when over 90% of churches are plateaued or declining, the church is not suffering from an overabundance of courage or risk-taking.

I believe risk taking is both a habit and a mindset. Take a few steps toward tackling small challenges, and soon you’ll be up for big ones.

Similarly, if you’re a natural risk taker, it’s also natural with age to rest on your laurels. Don’t. Even taking risks like the ones below will prime the pump for future change and transformation, which, by the way, is always in season.

After all, the next generation doesn’t care what you did yesterday.


7 Risks Any Leader Can Take Today

So, if you want to flex your risk-muscle for the first time or the 1000th time, here are 7 things you can to today to get started:


1. Start something you don’t know how to finish

This can be truly awesome. Tackling things you know how to do is a sure path to stagnation and eventual boredom.

What’s that project at work that scares the life out of you? Start it. Today. And see where it goes. You will figure it out. You will.

Most people who make a dent in the universe had no idea what they were doing when they started. Why would it be any different with you?


2. Actually do what you’ve been thinking of doing but haven’t done yet

We all have things we’ve been thinking of doing for years that actually might be doable. But we haven’t started yet.

Just do it. Seriously. Great leaders have a massive bias for action, not just thinking.


3. Be generous when you don’t feel like it

Yes, generosity is a risk. Being generous financially when you don’t feel like you have it is a risk.

Being generous with praise when you don’t feel like praising someone is a risk.

In a universe where there are a thousand reasons to be stingy, generosity is a risk.

But generosity is the key to developing an abundance mentality. And people with an abundance mentality often end up taking more risks.

So start by thanking someone who deserves some thanks but you don’t feel like giving it. Or give some money away today.


4. Set a goal you think is impossible to reach

The reason you won’t set a daring goal is because you think it’s impossible. Which is why you should set it.

It can be small. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine challenged me to do 100 pushups a day. I almost laughed. The most I had ever done in a day is 30 and I hadn’t done them in a few months. I did 13 on my first day. Today I did 100 before breakfast. Crazy.

The same is true for your organization. People who set goals accomplish far more than people who don’t.


5. Be vulnerable

And yes, vulnerability is also a risk.

Bring a close friend in on a struggle you haven’t talked to anyone about yet.

Get over your fear of telling your team you don’t know the answer (I promise you they already know you don’t know).

Being vulnerable sets you up for accepting the failure that inevitably accompanies risk…that failure you’re so scared of. Being vulnerable today will prepare you for a bit of failure tomorrow on your way to greater accomplishments.


6. Give someone else an opportunity you were going to take for yourself

It’s a risk to trust others with something you care about, isn’t it? Which is why you need to do it.

Pick an opportunity you were going to do personally and invite someone else to do it. This will not only help you be more generous with your leadership, but it positions you to create a stronger team moving forward.

As the saying goes when it comes to accomplishment, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go futrher, go with a team.


7. Take quitting off the table

When you’re afraid, you think about quitting don’t you?

So take it off the table. Just decide you’re in for the long haul and get moving.

It’s riskier to stay and try than it is to quit and leave.

In the same way couples who take divorce off the table usually find a way to work through their issues, you will find a way to work through your issues if you move quitting off the table.

Those are 7 risks you can take today that will set you up for greater risks tomorrow.

Oh…and by the way…all of this will grow your faith. You will have to stop trusting yourself and what you know and start trusting God bigger than ever. After all, did you ever know God to call anyone in the scripture to something that was easy? Didn’t think so.

If you take more risks and trust far more, both you and your organization will be so much better positions because of it.

What other risks do you think leaders can take that will set us up for the future?

Leave a comment!



  1. Melissa Danisi on May 19, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Love this list! Espeically #6, what a great way to invite others into the mission and raise up new leaders.

  2. Nancy W. on May 2, 2014 at 7:53 am

    #0 Forget your age. Risk taking is not just for the young. At an age where I should be planning my retirement, I’m heading to seminary. Remember that 99 year old Abraham and 89 year old Sarah were challenged to become parents. Look how that turned out.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Nancy this is brilliant! Yes. Yes. Yes.

      *Carey Nieuwhof, Lead Pastor *
      *Connexus Church*
      *546 Bryne Drive, Unit E Barrie Ontario L4N 9P6* * * * *
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      *Sent from my personal email account. **If adding others, please use to include me in the conversation. Thank you!*

      • Nancy W. on May 2, 2014 at 8:05 am

        Thanks. Believe me, this wasn’t my idea. The Big Guy called this shot. I just lost the argument. (Isn’t it amazing that when you argue with God that even if you lose, you win.)

  3. David on March 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    an inspiring list!

  4. Brent Dumler on March 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    The idea of simply taking quitting off the table and getting moving does something huge. It eliminates all the waisted time we tend to sit around over-thinking all the possibilities and problems that could arise. Sure, there is wisdom in planning. But we can also deliberate an idea so long that we miss the timing God was wanting to move in. Churches that have a culture of constantly doing new things tend to find themselves in fewer ministry ruts. Great material, Carey.

  5. Gary Davis on March 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Let’s face it, when over 90% of churches are plateaued or declining, the church is not suffering from an overabundance of courage or risk-taking.

    Long term risk-taking takes perseverance and commitment. Many leaders stay in one place is 3-5 years. Plateaus and decline are often the result of frequent leadership turnover. Most things have a life cycle of 3 years – not nearly enough time for courageous risk-taking to show fruit.

    Stay the course my friends! God will not forsake you!

    Thanks for sharing Carey!

  6. Robert Hartzell on March 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    All of these are great, Carey. #1 is definitely a challenge. I find myself starting something, thinking of how it’s going to end, then it changing altogether into something else and not knowing how it will end.

    Also I think a true life of faith has to involve risk. If there’s no risk, there’s no need for faith. And sometimes we’re just too far out in the middle of the lake that it’s better to keep going than to turn back. (LOL)

    I would also add to keep dreaming, which is like a combination of 1 & 2. To risk writing down your vision or even sharing it with someone, then DO 1 & 2 and try it.
    Thanks Carey.

  7. Chuck on March 19, 2014 at 10:25 am

    As someone who just undertook the risk of parenthood a year ago, I think I’ve got most of those covered! (LOL!)

    “Kidding” aside, #1, 2, 4, and 5 strike at the heart of anyone in my line of work. They resonate with me.

    I was studying II Chronicles the other day, and felt very much for Jehoshaphat. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (II Chron 20:12). This covered about 4 things I was (am) going through all at once (i.e. my “vast army”).

    I have to remember that God knows me way more than I think He does. That was painful. Like sound reproof, it stung.

    That is all.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Funny and true Chuck. And that is an amazing scripture.

  8. Lawrence W. Wilson on March 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

    #2 has moved me forward more than anything else. We’re calling this the Year of Nike at Fall Creek. No more talk, no more meetings. Just do it.

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