Fuel for Desire

You can cover a lot of topics in a six hour drive, it was however a conversation about risk that has lingered. The idea that something to be avoided by one individual is fuel for desire in another.

I previously explored the notion of intrinsic or extrinsic reward in The Motivation to Change recognising that which motivates one individual might not apply to another. Risk taking has both intrinsic and extrinsic value. The ability to take a risk is always identified as an important leadership quality, yet it is more often than not viewed in a negative light.

Our capacity to see the opportunity in risk is defined by our personality, emotional strength, experience and our resilience. Managing risk successfully is a fine balance of all those qualities, lacking one or more can give us an over inflated view of our abilities resulting in risky behaviour.

It was the latter condition that was of concern for my traveling companion, Bette. The founder of Highbanks Society, Bette works with young mothers who may be there because of risky behaviour. Bette feels the challenge guiding young moms to make better decisions and see the consequences of their actions. It was especially poignant for Bette as one graduate of their program had taken on a job as a bicycle courier in downtown Calgary.

The young girl had only seen the opportunity in taking the risk not evaluating the cost of the risk as it related to being a mother, Bette was reflecting on all the life experience that suggested otherwise. The older we are the more we rely on our experiences and what we have learned through them. A challenge I have often heard in working with younger people is simply they have yet to benefit from experience and the learning that can come from it.

Recognising some personalities are drawn to the risk of experience more than others and providing an outlet for it is the basis of experiential learning programs. Providing a supportive environment for experimentation, reflection, adjustment and repetition is where we learn what our capacity and resilience for risk is. Experiential learning is also the foundation for leadership and team learning programs with horses.

Risk and opportunity are two things that go hand in hand working with horses. However, horses make it very clear that when you step too far outside our own comfort zone they rarely are willing to pick up the slack. Knowing how far you can go to push the boundary is where change happens, where the idea of taking a risk becomes a reward in itself.

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