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Courageous .... or Naive?

This week I was gathering some feedback for a client.

As one of his colleagues rattled off a list of adjectives such as "extraverted, intelligent, visionary, brave, and naive" I stopped him there.

"Hang on a minute!" I said. "Surely being brave is fully knowing the dangers before you take the action. If you were naive about the risks, can we say you were being courageous?"

The very next day, I was having lunch with a friend and former client, Will Freeborough. Will is the Managing Partner of Orchestra (www.orchestra-agency.com), a fabulous marketing and advertising agency in central London.

I've seen the huge commitment to build this successful business, and know there have been highs and lows. Yesterday, as I surveyed the vast office space and big team, I saw cash hungry overheads and the need to keep bringing in clients and new business. When I said I admired the courage of anyone who does this, Will half-joked that it was naivety as much as courage.

Having come across this concept twice in two days, I gave it some more thought.

I still believe that courageous action occurs when we choose to act, knowing there is potential danger. As the famous book title suggests, we "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!" .

I guess the "naive" part is perhaps not fully appreciating ALL the dangers. After all, it is impossible to know EVERYTHING that can happen until you start moving forward.

Probably just as well.

There are so many variables, unknowns and potential risks. If we were able to contemplate them all, less people would date, get married, become parents, start new jobs, accept promotions, start businesses, or do anything else worthwhile in life!

There have been plenty of times when I've been stuck in "analysis paralysis" because I wanted to find the perfect, risk-free direction. At last, I'm finally accepting that life isn't like that.

A slow learner, I know!

Now, when I catch myself doing that, I break my mental stalemate by replacing it with curiosity.

"What if it doesn't work out?" is a reasonable question to encourage a contingency plan, but don't make it mean you're stupid or wouldn't cope!

If you're not sure of what will happen, "Let's find out!" invites playful curiosity and implies confidence in your ability to handle whatever results from your choice. That way, you keep moving forward.

After all, isn't that how life is meant to be lived?

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