When it comes to leading a business, Richard Branson is a near-limitless well of advice. In his recent book The Virgin Way the Virgin Group founder dishes on everything from the lost art of listening to the importance of having a sense of humor in creating your company culture.

In the foreword, titled "Life's Too Short," Branson begins with a quote by Sir Thomas Beecham: "Try everything once. Except incest and folk dancing," He explains that taking what he calls "calculated risks"--what others might view as being reckless--is the only way to become successful. What's the point of leading, he continues, if you don't approach it with passion?

To illustrate this point, Branson recalls a time that he went for a sail around Necker Island, zigzagging around and over jagged rock formations rather than taking a calmer, safer route. Sure, that might have been easier, but would the experience have been half as rewarding? Branson thinks not, and compares this mindset to running a business the 'Virgin way':

"My approach to sailing around Necker is perhaps a pretty good analogy for my view on leadership in business. If your vision is to reach a distant beach where, because of the reefs surrounding it, no one has ever set foot, then the chances are that reading the same old charts as everyone else has used isn't going to get you there either." 

While it's true that Branson's daredevil approach has resulted in some failures--notably, his attempt to take on Coca-Cola, as well ventures such as Student magazine and Virgin Brides--it's all part and parcel of an attitude toward life that has proved wildly successful.  

Are you taking the necessary risks to reach your own goals? 

Published on: Mar 23, 2015