Jim Lawless

An excerpt from a keynote Jim delivered in Chicago in November 2019.

If we are going to do new things, we are going to meet uncertainty.

If we are going to meet uncertainty, we are going to discover risk.

A show of hands…

How many people, when you were 12, 13, 14 years of age, had a mother or a father or whoever cared for you at this stage in your life who would wave you off to school in the morning and say:

“Bye bye my darling…

Have a wonderful day at school today!

Be sure and take a risk or two at school today!

If nobody in the class knows the answer, there’s huge uncertainty, it’s a new topic, don’t be worried, just stroll out in the middle and have a go, it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong in front of everybody.”

Who had that, anyone have that when they were waved off to school?

Genuinely, working in the Bay Area we can get 50% of the hands in the room going up.

But in the rest of the world… The rest of the world…

I think whenever one or two stray Californians are here, sometimes they popup in EMEA we get one, but they are the only people who will respond.

We were raised for the Industrial Age, ladies and gents.

We were raised to work in great organisations with great heritage – beware here – where the machine worked and our job was to show up, get it right first time to the satisfaction of an authority figure who could define right.

Who knew what it looked like.

He wasn’t asking questions because we’ve never been down this path before.

They knew what right looked like.

They could define it.

Our job at school was to show up and get a tick, wasn’t it?

In my school, green pen for ticks, red pen for… You knew as you opened the page, just by the color scheme, whether you were in trouble or not. If there was writing, “See me after class”…ouch…

Our job is to get it right first time.

From the age of four through college, for most people maybe not in all cases, and into our careers.

And now we’re operating in this disruptive, VUCA, age of uncertainty, leave the comfort zone, embrace risk and uncertainty, do things we’ve never done before…

We have not been taught how to do this!