AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen? You Could Change the World.

Posted by ayofemikirby on May 21, 2011

Today in my social media course at American University, we watched TED Talks from Morgan Spurlock, producer and star of “SuperSize Me”, and from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Many would consider both successful in their respective fields, and in their TED Talks, both inspire others to think bigger about themselves and the ability to impact the world.

Spurlock’s talk, “The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold”, encourages individuals within organizations to take risks. He says that organizations who train their employees to be risk averse, also prepare them to be reward averse. He also says that when organizations run away from risks, they also push people towards failure.

I can’t help but to agree. The most innovative idea-generators these days have and continue to fail multiple times. But with each step forward, the move the status quo of what is possible and more importantly, what others think is possible. When individuals and organizations choose not to take a chance on a new idea or to approach problems in different ways, they remain stagnant, and in the information age, with ideas spreading faster than ever, they risk being left behind.

Sandberg, though her talk is geared towards addressing gender issues in the workplace, also encourages individuals, specifically women to take risks in their careers. She encourages us (yes, I’m a woman), to “keep our foot on the gas” and to “not make (life) decisions too early”. Sandberg says it is in everyone’s best interest if women stand up, speak for themselves, and pursue every opportunity that interests them as long as it makes us happy, and allows us to feel as though we are making a contribution in the world.

What is inherent however in this pursuit of opportunity and self-actualization, is the very real chance of failure. Who knows if we’ll be successful in every job or chance we take in speaking up and rising to the occasion. But to understand the essence of Sheryl’s message, we have to understand that we are doing the world a disservice when we don’t. We have too few women leaders because women are taught to be risk-averse, or to weigh the consequences of what could happen much more than the possibilities of what may happen, and because of this, the world and our careers often suffer.

So in all, as individuals, both men and women, we must move forward into the realm of possibility. We often think of what could happen if we do something different, but from now on, we should think much more of what will happen when we do.


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