The Risk of STORY

From the first session of STORY right on through the last, there was one common theme. You might think it would be creativity. While there was plenty of creativity in every session, the common theme was really RISK.

Ed Saxon, the producer of many incredible movies including blockbuster hits like Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs, spoke about risk and being willing to fail. “Taking chances is something to revel in,” he said. I bet that everyone who presented at STORY would agree with that statement. I was struck by the way this tribe of storytellers is willing to take great risks to tell the greatest story in a creative and meaningful way.

“I’ve got a lot of light bulbs that didn’t light up in my lamp factory,” Saxon confessed. Really? I thought. How encouraging.  One reason I went to STORY was to glean practical tips for the creative process. For me, this concept of required risk and inevitable failure qualified.

The concept of risk also permeated Tom Ryan’s sharing. Ryan is the CEO of Threadless, where the concept of crowdsourcing t-shirt designs began. In fact, Threadless was crowdsourcing in 2000. To put that in perspective, in 2006, the term crowdsourcing was introduced…6 years after Threadless began doing it.

Ryan talked about the challenges of beginning the company, where the seed money was the $500 cash winnings from a t-shirt design contest. It wasn’t easy to take such risk with a concept that wasn’t proven. In the margin of my notes, I wrote: Failure is part of the creative process.

Church, we cannot always play it safe with what is known. We will miss many opportunities if we only adopt the ideas of others and never take risks to create the ideas the world around us can adopt. Between the tension of what is and what could be, there is a lot of ground to cover. Some ideas will work, some will fail miserably. That is all part of the process. If we own the successes, we also must own the failures.

Several years ago, I had a mentor who would ask, “Christy, are you taking enough risks? When was the last time you failed?” I don’t see that friend very much these days, and I miss the accountability. Turns out I need to hear that question often. We all do.

So, I’m asking you…are you taking enough risks right now? When was the last time you failed? Try something new today, and embrace the possibility of what could be. Don’t let fear hold you back from something great!

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