Risk Forward Book Review

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 23, 2024

risk forward book review

Some people (and organizations) know exactly what they want to achieve. Victoria Labalme’s book, Risk Forward: Embrace the Unknown and Unlock Your Hidden Genius is for those of us who DON’T.

I absolutely adore this book as it gives us permission NOT to have all the answers. To make the perfect plan. To embrace the fog of NOT knowing and work through the insecurities, outer voices, and myths that accompany that gray space.

Because it happens to all of us. At some point in our life, our career, our journey, we find ourselves in a “profound phase of uncertainty. A cloud of “not knowing.” This little but mighty book is the recipe for moving forward despite of – and because of the unknown. To “Risk Forward.”

Labalme encourages us to find our “inner current” which is already inside of us – the throughline of wisdom that runs through everything we do. To be open and curious about the “crimson star” – the possibility, a whisp of an idea. Because “some of the most celebrated companies and creative endeavors didn’t start with complete clarity, a detailed plan, or a five-year goal. They started with an idea, a wisp, a glimmer of a thought, which the person then followed and explored, often through significant periods of self-doubt.”

This book is your companion to guide, encourage, and inspire you during those periods of self-doubt.

Some of my favorite passages include:

  • Trust the idea that can lead to the idea. “If you’re with others, you can simply say, ‘Okay, this may not be right, but it could be the idea that leads to the idea.’ This statement immediately deflects potential judgment.”
  • “Fuse disparate elements together in unusual ways, even if you don’t see an example represented in the world around you.” For example “the manager who loves poetry and starts her team meetings each Monday with a line from one of her favorite poets. People say it inspires them each week.”
  • “Creative acts are not acts of knowing. They are acts of discovery….you start out with a gut sense that something feels worthwhile only to realize it’s shallow and stale. Then you’re lost for a while, not sure where to turn. Only by wrestling through countless…late nights of self-doubt do you find something new. You can’t make a new discovery by following a preprinted map.”
  • When evaluating input, consider three variables: 1. How does it feel? 2. Who is giving the advice? 3. Is it in line with where you think you want to go?
  • Beware of “the danger of creativity by consensus. an original vision gets adjusted by everyone’s vote until it no longer represents anything of true DARING and DISTINCTION.”
  • Just ‘doing something’ is not a good strategy. “When we’re put under pressure, we tend to bypass doing our due diligence.” Sometimes it is best to take a strategic pause for a few days. Respect your indecision and examine why you might be hesitant. It’s okay to say, “It’s too important of a decision to rush.”

I bet there will be other nuggets of wisdom when I read this book during another foggy moment!

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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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