If you want to do things differently, challenge the norm or play a bigger game it takes a lot of bravery. Negotiating a pay rise, resetting work boundaries, deciding to be part, or not, of a changing organisation, saying no – it takes a lot of courage. And whilst all this may sound easy, we know it can equally be a risky business. It absolutely takes bravery - 100 per cent, all day and every day. It takes a level of self-belief to challenge the traditional, the ‘it’s always been like that’ or even ‘this is how I’ve always done it’.
Yes the world of business is increasingly competitive and ever changing. Yes the demands on time (work and life), for some, seem to be out of control with ‘I’m busy’ being the go-to status update. And yes we all know that the work of work processes, structures, leadership, diversity and engagement levels need to evolve to align with future needs.
For any change to happen - small or large, personally or professionally - we all have to be that little bit braver. We need to dig deep and know that it takes an inner confidence and conviction to be brave, to be a non-conformist, to have a view contradictory to the expected.
It takes a willingness to try, to test, to learn and to fail.
If you look at some of the most successful leaders in play today, at some stage in their upward momentum they have ‘failed’ and shown strength and resilience in coming back from the edge. Richard Branson has failed and gotten up more times than many other entrepreneurs have made a decision. Sara Blakely, billionaire businesswoman and founder of Spanx, talks about how, as a child, her father would sit her down at the dining room table and ask her the question: "What did you fail at this week?”
In his article ‘Failure Is An Option’ Simon Sinek says; “to operate based on conviction and belief requires an acceptance that your actions could get you fired. This is different from pig-headed bravado, and it is different from putting the company at risk”.
We need to be that little bit braver, to operate from a place of full disclosure and be prepared to have the courageous conversations. Only in this way can we drive change, create action and create momentum for ourselves, others, our careers and our businesses.
- We have to be willing to fail – because this is bravery.
- We have to be willing to share what we know – because this is bravery.
- We have to step in to the spotlight – because this is bravery.
- We have to connect deeply and ask for help – because this is bravery.
- We have to try different ways of doing and working – because this is bravery.
- We have to manage ourselves, our boundaries, our decisions – because this is bravery.
- We have to embrace diversity and all the difference of opinion it brings – because this is bravery.
When you hold back from making decisions out of a fear of failure, it engenders that same fear in those around you. This creates lacklustre projects, an endemic inability to change the business status quo, and a potential lack of future management candidates.
Linda Sapadin, the US based author of Master Your Fears and psychologist, uses the example of The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, who takes action despite a lack of courage. ‘People think having courage means you have no fear’, when in fact, ‘…courage is taking action despite the fear’. She adds ‘you really need to be able to get beyond the fear to make your business happen’.
In other words, fear of failure doesn’t mean full stop – it means do it anyway, be brave, and go for it.
What would you do differently today if you were a little bit braver? Go on, get out there and kick some ass because you never know what changes it can create.