What does being BOLD have To Do with It? In a word: everything. Nothing ‘big’ is ever accomplished without courage. Period. When we stretch ourselves to accomplish something new, transformative, strategic, risky, out of our comfort zone,or just plain scary…….we have to be brave and bold.
Like so many of the great achievements of the past (our own and other’s) we don’t, and probably can’t, fully grasp the effort it took to get there. Overcoming obstacles, unprecedented creativity, unwavering solidarity, making the tough decisions –all these contribute to achieving transformative and often revolutionary accomplishments. And yes, all these qualities represent leadership of the finest level. Yet, again, the one visceral quality which is often overlooked and underestimated in leadership is bravery.
Just having the raw cojones to reach for the perceived unachievable represents the most courageous of leaders. Being successful in business today takes bravery–plain and simple. Being bold and brave in business includes: how to make tough calls in difficult times, how to have the fortitude to stand tall in the face of adversity, how to plow through deadlines and ‘keep your wits’ when the stress and pressures seem overwhelming…..to name just a few every day examples.
What are a few tips to becoming Bold and Brave? Assume the position. Corra Harris, the renowned Southern author from the late 1890’s, stated:“The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.”
How true this is. When we proclaim our fearlessness, it is amazing to watch how we become fearless. Recently, I was working with an executive who needed to give a very public report on the company’s quarterly results. The statistics were not great –partly due to the recession’s impact on his business, and partly due to simple ‘lack of execution’ against defined objectives. Net: the material he needed to present was not going to be positive, and the audience, made up of analysts and shareholders, was not going to cut him any slack. Frankly, he was scared. Logic tells us that there wasn’t much he could do at this juncture. He needed to stand up, tell the truth, and lay out his next course of action. Nevertheless, he needed to get past his fear. So, every morning as he was shaving he recited a mantra to himself:“I am strong. I can do this. We will be successful going forward. I am not afraid.” He would say this to himself over and over again. Before long, he began to embody those very words. Giving his quarterly analyst report was tough; yet, he embodied strength, confidence, and courage when he stood before a very demanding audience. He assumed the position.Never give up.
History is rich with testimonies of perseverance and stalwart resolve. I want to offer just one. This is a quote from Winston Churchill, as Great Britain and the United States faced the horrors of world war in 1941:“Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt… We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”And again, Churchill echoed not a few months later: “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small...”.We know how this story ends –and I believe the end result was absolutely due to the bravery of many men and women; and particularly the courage of our leaders –Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur and Montgomery –to name a few.
In our daily lives while leading corporate America, teaching school, raising teenagers, and raising money for charities, we, too, are faced with the temptation to ‘give up’ when it gets tough. What I know for sure is if we, as leaders, give up –then the game is over. As leaders, it is our responsibility to be BOLDLY courageous and persevere in the face of often scary and ominous circumstances. Others are looking to us for our resolve, our direction, and, yes, our courage to make the hard decisions, set the firm direction, and never give up.
Study –know your stuff. There is no alternative to being prepared and well versed in your field. Period. Haven’t you noticed how confident you feel when you are prepared? This confidence translates to ‘courage under fire.’ When we study, prepare, and practice –we gain confidence and bravery.There is simply no replacement for preparation.
Join hands with your team. As leaders, sure, it can be lonely at the top. Yet, leaders are also part of a team. We are not alone –unless we choose to be. Joining hands with our colleagues, partners, peers, and employees builds strength, fosters confidence, and bravery throughout the ranks.
To sum it up…No one has the corner on the market on fear. Everyone is afraid –at one time or another. It is part of the human condition. Typically what holds us back is fear of something … rejection, making a wrong decision, failure, missed opportunities, possible hurt, missed projections, loss, the list is long. If we can embrace the fear and use it as a catalyst, we can achieve many goals which we thought were beyond our wildest dreams. Bravery can be our foundational backbone.When fear knocks….let Brave Faith open the door.
And always remember: Big Accomplishments require grand Vision, deep Conviction,serious Execution, and Bold courage. As Eleanor Roosevelt so famously stated,“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Amen.And as another grand lady and leader (my momma) would say: “Put your chin up, shoulders back, and move forward with conviction.”Enough said.