Dr. Bill Anton celebrates National Lazy Day by challenging us to no longer “opt for familiar pain rather than risking losing the familiar but maimed self.” Some celebration! Working hard on a day dedicated to laziness seems sacrilegious. Then again, what a great day to consider how to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. In fact, his challenge reminds me of how important it is for leaders to consider the opportunity cost of continuing to allow themselves to not do what is difficult. By accepting the limitations created by our mental models we function at suboptimal levels. Doing so is certainly comfortable and expensive!
There is a classic leadership development experiential exercise that requires teams to set a price for a commodity to achieve the goal of making as much profit as possible within the parameters of the exercise. I am consistently impressed with leaders’ preference for choosing the least risky but also lowest return option in this activity. Economists call it “loss aversion” and its power is amazing. Even after the limitations of this approach have been obviously demonstrated, many people still defend their decision.
While I fully appreciate that taking risks is inherently scary, we need to accept that not taking a risk is also scary. Consider how loss aversion manifests itself in interpersonal relationships. If you have you ever waited for someone to apologize to you and the apology never arrives, consider now how expensive it was to lose that relationship. So in the spirit of National Lazy Day – take the risk looking at yourself more deeply and breaking those self-limiting mental models – the opportunities that can open up are worth it!