It takes a lot of courage to be bold–to take on the hard tasks and set the biggest, most challenging goals. But what does it take to find that necessary courage?
According to Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston who’s written and spoken extensively about the subject, it’s all about embracing vulnerability.
“You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability,” said Brown. During an interview with the TV show “60 Minutes”, where she talked about vulnerability in business, she added: “Innovation by definition is idea-iteration-failure-iteration-failure-iteration. Places, where they’re doing the most remarkable high-risk/high-reward innovating, have huge tolerances for vulnerability.”
Brown definitely hits the nail on the head, but would like to add in the voice of another fount of wisdom: Master Yoda. He said, “The greatest teacher failure is.”
Courage. Vulnerability. Failure. Brene Brown and Yoda. Today’s Notes From Ed is going to be a fun one!
Last week I discussed how Elon Musk–the billionaire risk-taker who’s been to space and back–is the perfect example of courage. I also described how that courage is an essential component of Bold Living. How could you plan to do something big and bold without having the courage to make that climb up Bold Mountain?
Said Brown: “In order for transformation to happen, in order for there to be a success by any metric–money, stock price, market share–whatever your metric is, you can’t get there without brave leaders and courageous cultures.”
And of course, there’s Yoda’s famous quote about just doing it: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Yet all this courage and just doing it, requires vulnerability, and the acceptance that vulnerability is a key component in mustering the strength to overcome the fear of failure. In the context of Bold Goals, it means sticking your neck out to do something that you could very well fail at. Remember: whether your Bold Goal is to run a marathon or send your kids to an Ivy League school, or any other “wow-worthy” accomplishment big or small, there’s always the chance that, despite your best-laid plans, you could fall short in accomplishing your goals.
However, it’s in those moments of uncertainty–when you’re most vulnerable–that real courage comes into play.
Said Brown: “When you are in uncertainty, when you feel at risk, when you feel exposed, don’t tap out. Stay brave, stay uncomfortable, stay in the cringey moment, lean into the hard conversation and keep leading.”
In her book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”, Brown added:
“…[W]ithout question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, or hurtful as standing on the outside looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena.”
Ultimately, when it comes to Bold Goals, vulnerability should be viewed as an essential part of the equation. The very nature of a Bold Goal points to an inspiring accomplishment that many would likely fail to achieve if they tried it without a solid plan and great effort. How Bold could it be if there were no risk involved?
On the flipside, if failure does come, it should become your badge of honor–your failures are at least a testament to the fact that you tried!
So don’t fear being vulnerable. You need it to have the courage to take on the big Bold Goals.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you are afraid to lose,” said Yoda.
Meanwhile, Brown said, “I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore…embrace the suck.”
Both are kernels of solid advice. Want to achieve big things? Let go of your fears. Embrace the suck, and give Bold Living a try!
Keep living Bold!
P.S. PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success is a complete system for planning your life to get what you want, and has been a top seller in three categories: “Motivational Growth & Spirituality”, “Personal Success & Spirituality” and “Management Skills”. I hope you check it out if you have not purchased a copy.