In an earlier blog I wrote, “Leadership qualities are not a secret. Leaders are usually: hardworking, action oriented, optimistic, brave, good communicators, empathetic, open minded and honest.” In my previous blog, I expounded on the topics of honesty and optimism.
To continue my pseudo-lecture on leadership qualities, I’ve next selected the attribute of bravery to write about. Everyone can learn to be brave and this bravery comes in all different fashions.
My mother had a mild case of social anxiety and agoraphobia. If you met her, you would never know. But I can tell you, her self-consciousness was crippling. As an example (and speaking of crippling), at 70 years of age, while watering her yard, she slipped on the wet grass and broke her lower leg. Unlike most people, who would get cabin fever, she didn’t leave the house for almost one year! Daddy had to practically push her out the door.
To her, being brave was going to social events, working outside the home or visiting my school. I don’t think mother ever darkened the door of any school I attended or ever met any of my teachers.
To be brave one must Dig Deep.
As you sit in your chair, walk down the street, or maybe lie in bed, thinking; what do you dream about doing? What do you dream about becoming?
For me, as a young lady lying in bed, I dreamed of living in New York City and having a successful career as a fashion model. I can still remember the apartment I decorated and redecorated in my head. I could see in my mind’s eye the clothes I dreamt of wearing as I walked around my high-fashion apartment. Depending on your age, recall either the Mary Tyler Moore show or Sex in the City and you get the picture, too.
Because of this daydreaming goal, I ambitiously and fearfully left home and attended a 1-year fashion merchandizing college in Dallas, Texas. After graduation -for several reasons- that career didn’t work out. I thought my daydreaming had been in vain. I felt disheartened and, at 20 years old, took what I thought, at the time, was a measly job of selling flags door to door, business to business.
With fear in my stomach, I knocked on doors and learned to cold call on business owners to sell them flags. Again, that career didn’t work out. Dejected, I moved home and, out of necessity, began to sell flags out of the trunk of my car in my hometown of North Little Rock, Arkansas.
What seemed like a setback was really a set-up for bigger things. Through all that, I learned independence from living in the big city, confidence in my solo decision making, and how to shake hands, cold call on strangers, and speak professionally on the phone.
Don’t think, by any stretch of the imagination, I was good at it. I was just average, at best. To start, you don’t have to have all the answers, so no need to pretend like you do. All you must have is the bravery to try something new. Let your daydreaming lead you, but be open to redirection. The road is almost never straight. What may seem like a door closing might just be another door opening, preparing you for what lies ahead.
Acknowledging your averageness, along with a healthy dose of honesty and integrity, is freeing. So be brave. Join that club, take that class you’ve been thinking about, wear a too-tight dress because you want to, dye your hair purple, go to dinner by yourself and sit at the bar, run for office, hire some help, or drive cross-country.
There’s no need to pretend to be something you’re not (how liberating). As you try new things for the first time, state and confess the obvious, “I don’t understand, can you say it again,” or “this is my first time, bear with me,” or in my mother’s case, “crowds make me nervous, let’s walk in together.”
Start practicing now at being consciously brave, openly honest, and eternally optimistic.
In my next leadership blog, we’ll tackle the art of communication.
To be continued …