We have so many choices today about where we take our guidance from. Often these “voices” can be subtle messages such as popularity, success, materialism or even shame. In my view living boldly means stretching ourselves and contributing the best way we can to our families, our businesses and our community. These voices seek to distract us from being the best we can be and in order to ensure they don’t derail us, we need to set in place solid success markers for ourselves. This means identifying what is uniquely important to us, and measuring our success against these markers, not against what other people say is important. We do however need to be careful that we don’t have unrealistic expectations commencing this process. Bare in mind the following:
1. Living boldly increases the chance of failure
We are afraid of doing what we have never done before because it is unfamiliar territory. This means we often leave unclaimed the new dreams, experiences and gifts that are awaiting our collection. We have got to push past the fear of the unknown and be prepared to do something different. The African impala can jump 3 m high and 10 m long, yet it can be contained in a small enclosure with 1.2 m high walls. Why? Because it will not jump if it cannot see where it is going to land. Often we have the same problem. We want a money back guarantee before we take a leap of faith. Sometimes I wonder if we set our lives up to protect ourselves from failure. Boundaries are a healthy thing however when we build boundaries to keep ourselves operating inside of our abilities, this is fear.
When we choose to live boldly, we increase our chances of failure. To not take this chance however is letting ourselves be constrained by “perceived obstacles” like the impala. Perhaps failure can be better defined as not stepping into the unknown, rather than what happens as a consequence of taking that step?
2. Comparison kills courage
You can never be bold when you’re more concerned about fitting in than you are about stepping out. Sometimes I think we forget we are all different, and there is limited value in comparing our performance against others. When we listen to others, we risk elevating their standards above ours. Living boldly is not about achieving to some predetermined standard, or taking certain actions. To me living boldly is about having the courage to be yourself despite what you feel others may think.
3. Invite confrontation
In his book “The Power Of The Other”, Dr Henry Cloud emphasises the impact our relationships with others has on our life – we ignore this at our peril. He states that the highest form of relationship we can have is a corner four relationship. “It is the place where we can be real about our needs for others, where we can be challenged to do better, and we can thrive on being connected from both our strengths and our weaknesses”. It acknowledges failure and mistakes but is able to use them for learning and “getting better”. It is “real” where we can be honest and authentic and be accepted and challenged. Have we given others permission to confront us when we don’t live boldly?