“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
We live in an age when we allow ourselves to be ruled by our fears. The more we have the more we curl in on ourselves to defend it, clinging to our past achievements rather than reaching forward for more.
But nobody ever achieved great things through caution. It is boldness of speech and action, the willingness to let go of our fears and step bravely forward, which allows us to be the best that we can. Einstein didn’t become the most famous scientist in the world by quietly accepting what he had been told. Neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs became global business leaders by timidly working in long established fields.
If you want to achieve great things then you need to be bold.
It’s easy to feel pressure to conform, to work in the same way as others in your business, to take the same model as your competitors. But all this will do is guarantee that you blend into the background.
Apple built their business on a guiding principle of simplicity. In an ever more complex age they stood back and asked how they could take that complexity out of their products. From the way they look to the way they work you can see that principle at play in Apple devices, and it’s part of how they’ve been so successful.
Be bold enough to be different.
It’s always tempting to be timid and not to challenge the attitudes of others. Maybe it’s accepting your boss’s view even when you disagree with her. Maybe it’s setting unambitious targets because you know that your team can safely meet them. Maybe it’s giving your customers the same product year after year because that’s what they’ve come to expect.
But challenging the status quo is a great way to create your own space, to show the intelligence, insight and creativity that you’re capable of. And it can lead to opportunities no one expected.
The success of organic farming is an example of this. Going against perceptions that all customers cared about was identical fruit and vegetables at dirt cheap prices, organic farming has turned into a thriving business sector and in the process challenged the way that we think about our food.
Or think of Bob Dylan going electric. It was a challenge to his audience and to the traditions of folk music. It changed the face of rock and roll and guaranteed his place as a cultural legend.
Be bold enough to be challenging.
At the heart of all of this is being yourself. If you can be the real, authentic you, if you can define achievement on your own terms, then you will be more comfortable in your own skin, more effective in your work and more compelling to others. Your energy will be unleashed and your passion will show, bringing out the best both in you and in others.
Russell Brand may not be everyone’s favorite comedian but his willingness to intelligently discuss subjects he cares about has made him a star. Richard Dawkins may seem abrasive but by standing by his beliefs he has widened debates on science and religion, selling a substantial number of books along the way.
Be bold enough to be you and the rest will follow.
Let Go of the Fear
Fear of loss, of challenge, of embarrassment is natural, but it will only hold you back.
Be bold. Be the best that you can.
(About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. He has 20 plus years of C-Level experience across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, government, and people and potential (aka HR). In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York. He also actively serves on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches in the School of Business and Economics; Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management, International Business and Information Systems. Mark holds an MBA and is highly recognized in the technology and healthcare space with credentials including MCSE and Paramedic. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity. Mark resides in New York with his wife Lynn, two children, and two Labradors. The greatest pursuit; “To be more in the Service of Others.”)