Most of us are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we get paralyzed and make no decision at all.

You’ve got to create a bold and compelling plan for your future. And in the absence of clarity, the universe will fill the gaps with whatever it chooses… and most of the time, it’s not going to be anything that you would have chosen for yourself.

“The universe abhors a vacuum” – a mentor once told me. His words ring in my ear any time I don’t have a clear cut strategy in place.

“What if I make a mistake?” one of my corporate clients asked me…

To answer this question, let me tell you a true story. I was invited to train leaders of a leading organization recently and as part of the training, I gave participants a quiz. They were given a series of questions and a list of answers and they had to match up the correct answer to the question. And it was supposed to be something fun to break up the serious learning that was taking place as we were getting deep into implementing a succession planning program.

Here’s what I discovered – by accident – Every single group only matched up the answers they knew- and though I playfully suggested they take a guess with the remaining ones- what do you think happened?

Not a single group did.

They were so afraid to be wrong that they didn’t give themselves permission to fail, to even take a guess, to play.

It was a quiz. There was no prize.

Here’s the lesson: When we fear making mistakes we also become averse to risk.

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has written, “For most people, the fear of losing $100 is more intense than the hope of gaining $150.’

Is it possible that we are loss-averse more than risk-averse?

If you are not prepared to be wrong, take risks, you’ll never come up with anything original.

In business, aversion to risk might possibly be an aversion to loss. Either way, it is the death of most any business in today’s fast-changing economy.

The bottom line is that great leaders realize that sometimes they’re going to be right and sometimes they’re going to be wrong. Great leaders make the best decision they can in the moment, course-correct if they make a mistake, and learn the lesson so the mistake is not repeated.

Change is never easy. But taking smart risks can lead to a fresh perspective, a new outlook, a renewed connection to ourselves and to life. But if we don’t make the choice to lead change, change will lead us. It will decide our fate, for better or for worse. Are you ready to lead change? If not, rededicate yourself to the effort.

Make the best decision you can in the moment, and take bold action on it. I call it ADA.

Assessment. Decision. Action. 


Change is a choice. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t ‘lose’ or fail- if you knew that every step was just one step closer to where you need to get to? What new decision would you make?

Originally published at


  • Leena Patel

    Chief Innovation Officer

    Leena Patel is the founder of, author of Raise Your Innovation IQ, and a leading expert on helping executive teams worldwide drive innovation and develop a culture of collaboration and inclusion. She draws from two decades experience as a woman-owned business owner to design and execute on innovation initiatives that capitalize on new business opportunities and secure a strategic market position. Leena and her team have worked with leading corporations in 16+ industries, advised CEOs and Senior Executives worldwide, delivered over 1000 seminars, and have been featured by leading media like NBC, Bloomberg, Fox News, ESPN, and many more. Learn more at