“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Muhammad Ali
Today, there is too little courage in the world of business, education, the arts, entertainment and life in general. Steve Jobs said it best with, “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
In place of courage are shallow understandings, quick one-liners, glib sound bites and superficial punch lines as much for brands as for people.
And not understanding why courage is important has forfeited our independence as a result—for without courage, one backs away from living life fully, all for a quick chance in the spotlight. Or a quick buck. Or some mediocre result.
Courage May be Independent But Never Alone
Dependence on anything outside ourselves is a weakness, not a source of power. (Just to be clear, I am talking dependence, that reliance upon some other thing or person for your power and ability, not to be confused with collaboration, teamwork or expecting someone to do their part in a collaborative effort. For example, alignment would not be dependence but is coordination, which is a good thing.)
One dictionary defines courage as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”
Some define the word as being brave in spite of fear or danger while others define courage as “bold and brave, unafraid to face tough challenges.”
Whether you’re afraid or not, courage comes down to this: what we choose to do.
NY Times bestselling author Grant Cardone wrote, “It’s been said that FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real, which aptly implies that most of what you’re afraid of doesn’t ever come to pass. Fear, for the most part, is provoked by emotions, not rational thinking. And in my humble estimation, emotions are wildly overrated – and the scapegoat many people use for their failure to act.”
My friend, branding expert and NY Times bestselling author Daymond John summarized it this way, “If you aren’t living your dreams, then you’re living your fears.”
Courage is About the Future, Not the Past
It’s the pivotal difference between true courage and some inclination to simply fight anything that might be different: Courage isn’t about tackling some past fear or demon. It’s about making it possible for some future objective to arrive successfully.
Just ask the most successful, the most adventurous, the most “fearless” of us and they’ll tell you their “bravery” wasn’t about the past but about ensuring some future goal or dream could survive.
It’s what comprises the best of us. We see it in:
- the best artists,
- the best writers,
- the best entrepreneurs,
- the best leaders, and
- the best innovators.
It comes down to:
- The courage of our convictions.
- The courage to stand up against compromise.
- The courage to say no when it’s easier to say yes.
- The courage to challenge being satisfied with one’s achievements in light of even bigger future goals.
And the world progresses in direct ratio to the amount of courage we collectively display and act upon.
These were the thoughts and ideas I was engaged in last year after seeing more people feeling “entitled” and less people displaying the courage to take a stand for something worthwhile, do something possibly uncomfortable and withstand any opposition in order to get there.
Courage, Success and Action
NY Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said, “You aren’t entitled to success.”
Fact is none of us are.
Unless we demand more of ourselves. And our colleagues. And business partners. And those we serve.
And wake up the next day all ready to do it all over again.
Bringing so much value to every interaction that it redefines our a new standard of expectation with every gesture we make professionally and personally.
My Most Personal Video
And this is what’s inspired me to write, narrate and create this video.
It’s the most personal video I’ve ever produced. (Surprisingly, my “What is Branding” and “What is innovation?” videos have collectively eclipsed 400K views on YouTube. This is the newest video to be added to the “What is…” series.)
It was easy to put on paper what I was thinking.
But it took some courage to capture the raw emotion of the message.
Because this message is a very personal communication.
If this video inspired you—helping to remind you to tap into and choose your courage in everything you do, then I ask only this: help me by sharing it around
No matter what you do: business, artistic, entrepreneurial, writing, entertaining or creating music.
Why does this matter to me?
It seems the world could use some more courage, now more than ever.