The following article was first published on Switch and Shift’s blog, where I am honored to be among their League of Extraordinary Thinkers. Now more than ever, we need people who have the courage to be themselves in leadership, no matter what position or title they might have. We need people like you to craft your own brand of leadership, and implement your own unique expression of boldness.
What’s Your Brand of Bold?
Boldness that characterizes extraordinary leaders comes in many shapes and sizes, as well as forms.
It’s not a matter of size, race, status, or any number of things that can place the boldest of people in a neat category. In fact, those who are recognized for their boldness are often recognized because their words or actions fall outside of the “box” of what others expect from them given those things.
It’s not a matter of a particular type of expression either. Bold can look like yelling, or it could look like sitting in silent protest. It could look like jumping out of a plane, or look like giving someone a hug.
It is a bit ironic that the boldness encouraged in us when we are small in the form of exploring our world by learning to walk and to talk, is quickly replaced once we learn how with a mandate to be quiet and sit still. We learn that life is a game of survival that requires we assimilate whether that survival is physical or social.
School teaches us that there are rules and right answers. Many are taught not to question their elders even when they are acting contrary to what they have been telling them to do or not do.
We quickly learn it is far safer to conform, than it is to be bold. tweet this
No, most of us aren’t taught to be bold. Many are even taught to fear the consequences of being too bold. It’s no wonder so many people refrain from leading or from being a leader in this world.
And then there are those who choose to be bold anyway – those people who lead, regardless of whether they have a title or any kind of formal authority. What might be the common denominator of people who boldly choose to lead in this world? Perhaps some are born to be a bit bolder than others. Yet nature doesn’t explain it all either.
That is because ultimately boldness is a choice. tweet this
Any one of us can choose to be bold…
…to step outside the box of what’s expected.
…to be the one to speak up and say what others think but are afraid to say.
…to stand for a possibility in the face of criticism and disbelief.
…and the thousands of other ways we can all be bold.
What is the source of a choice to be bold? Some might say courage, and that certainly is a factor. Yet to be bold in the service of something bigger than oneself requires one thing above all – the willingness to take a stand. That is the raw material of a great leader.
“Give us clear vision, that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” – Peter Marshall, US Senate Chaplain 1947
Gandhi boldly stood for a peaceful separation of India from British rule. Mother Theresa stood for compassion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for equality. It is easy to see their stands as they are some of the boldest of leaders we have witnessed.
What we don’t see through the lens of history or in today’s public eye, however, are the countless acts of leadership boldly committed every day by people in every corner of the world.
Boldness is all around us and within us. Look for it and you will find it.
What do you stand for that could unleash the boldness in you?