In this school year’s first Peer Perspectives on Leadership lecture, Alana Rush used stories of adventure and positivity to discuss the power of calculated risk-taking in her life. Over the course of her lecture, Alana imparted lessons of character, respect, and self-reflection that have stayed with her through the many countries where she has lived and worked.
After graduating from the University of Florida and spending a few years working abroad and at home, Alana took a bold leap and moved to India “with two suitcases and a plane ticket home for Christmas.” Alana is a true globetrotter, having traveled to work and live in over fifty countries. India is the one country in particular that captured her early on and has drawn her back many times in the past few years. She has succeeded and failed, celebrated and accepted, in many places. Each time, calculated risks were the tie that binds these seemingly disparate experiences. Only in hindsight does the true riskiness of some of her decisions emerge – at the time they simply seemed like “the right thing to do.”
Alana discussed some key learnings throughout her many adventures: how a place to call home can truly ground oneself amidst trials and tribulations of being a foreigner, that no matter how dire a situation may seem there is always going to be a funny story to look back on, and that being to laugh at oneself has immense power.
What does Alana define as a calculated risk? Elements of the unknown, equal opportunity for success and failure, and the chance to create magic that has never existed before all combine to create the types of opportunities she has sought out. By seeking out challenging and life-changing decisions, Alana has learned powerful lessons from failure and quitting – two ideas that, as a self-described perfectionist, were very difficult at first to accept. We can all relate to the desire to succeed and have impact in the world and Alana’s stories provide insight into the personal and professional lessons available in each experience we have.
Alana closed her lecture with a simple question that we can all take with us into the next phases of our lives: Why Not? The worst that can happen is that we fail, but as Alana has experienced, those tend to be the most valuable moments.
If you are interested in nominating a classmate with a compelling story to speak for the Peer Perspectives on Leadership series, please contact Matt Deitch, (WG’15) at email@example.com. Also, like our Facebook page (Wharton Peer Perspectives on Leadership) to stay up-to-date on upcoming presentations!