Brave or foolhardy?

Bravery is an outcome, not an input.

The internet is full of exhortations to be brave. Thoughtleaders love to tell us to be brave, rock boats and take risks. It’s one of those simple exhortations that’s heroic and nonspecific enough to sound motivational and yet inoffensive.

Most change agents understand bravery differently. They didn’t set out to be brave. Usually they wanted to make things better in a small way. Many expected it to be easy or straightforward. Over time they were drawn to make purposeful, meaningful change.

Bravery comes when the push back hits. Change always faces opposition. The bravery is a response to the need to continue and to do more when there’s resistance. Whether the risks are deliberate or entirely accidental, risk is secondary to the outcome of the change.

Successful change agents are rarely foolhardy. Their risk tolerances may be greater than others. However, the risk appetite is combined with a calculated consideration of the challenge and the strategy to make change acceptable. Foolhardy enthusiasm is admirable but rarely effective. It’s often frightening short lived.

So if you feel you need to be more brave in work, life or other domain, don’t go looking for risk. Risk will always find you wherever you are. If you want to be more brave, go looking for those people or things that matter enough to you to keep going, especially when it would be easier to stop.

Bravery is an output of relationships or purpose. That’s why it’s so often correlated with success.

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