10 Principles to Guide Your Path to Boldness
The following is adapted from Superbold.
I’ll never forget the moment being bold changed my life forever.
I was 14, hanging around the local boys’ club, when an older man came bursting through the door. He was looking for another boy, who was not there at the time. The man was agitated. “He’s supposed to be washing dishes for me tonight,” he said, frustrated.
From the corner of the room, a meek little voice said, “I’ll work.”
The man jerked his head toward me. “Who said that?” he shouted.
“Me,” I replied.
“Come with me!” he commanded.
I followed him as he rushed out of the club and jumped into his Cadillac El Dorado convertible, and we sped off to his restaurant, where I worked a ten-hour shift for a dollar an hour. Cash.
Let me tell you all that came from that moment where I decided to speak up. That dishwashing job turned into a cooking job, and then bartending, which I used to support myself all through college. Gary, the owner’s son, has become one of my oldest and dearest friends, and eventually a partner in my business, 1-800-DENTIST, as well.
If I had said nothing, that friendship and that pathway that had so many benefits in my life would never have begun. It was not until many years later that I connected that briefest moment of daring—which, for someone as shy as I was, was extremely rare—with the power of boldness.
That’s what I want for you.
The following are ten guiding principles in your path to boldness. These principles will spark you, motivate you, and guide you in your choices. In my experience, they are valuable beyond becoming bolder. As standalone thoughts, they are keys to living a full and fulfilling life.
#1: The Prime Directive—Be the Voice of Upliftment
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you recall the prime directive, the rule for all of Star Fleet prohibiting them from interfering with the development of alien civilizations. I have a different prime directive for you, one that is perhaps the most powerful guiding principle I’ve ever discovered. It’s this: Lift people up.
In other words, in every encounter, make the other person feel better about themselves. I call it being the voice of upliftment. You will start to feel amazing things if you make other people feel good about themselves, and amazing, positive people will gravitate toward you.
The prime directive isn’t only about making people feel good about themselves. It’s also about breaking out of your prison of negativity. Many people complain, criticize, and accentuate the negative all the time, often to complete strangers. The prime directive asks you to change that.
#2: If You Want Different Results, Do Something Different
The key word here is do. Action must be taken. Wishing doesn’t work.
I’m going to spell out what may seem obvious, but it’s what most people ignore all the time in their personal behavior, and that’s this: if something isn’t working for you, try something different! Don’t keep doing the same things hoping for a different result. That’s not only unscientific, it’s crazy. Many people live their lives wishing, hoping, and expecting the world to change its response to them. They think things should somehow magically be different without them changing any of their behavior.
Remember, you are not just learning but also unlearning. You are writing over the stale code, the programming that got you this far but is now holding you back. That code likely protected you, as you were not old enough or mature enough to deal with what came at you. Doesn’t matter. You will unlearn those messages and learn to become bold.
#3: Be Proud
You’ve tried shame; now try pride. Not some preening vanity, but feeling good about yourself as you move through the world. Aim to be that person you want to be proud of.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Let that negative connotation go. Why wouldn’t you want to live a life you’re proud of?
#4: Embrace Failure
Expect to stumble before you walk and trip when you run. This is how you learn and grow. When you succeed, it will be a delicious surprise instead of the expectation that you used to need to motivate you. Failing only makes you a failure if you decide to give up.
I heard a podcast interview with Matt Mullenweg, the developer of the highly successful software WordPress, where he said that the history of the human race can be summed up in one word: mistakes. That’s the essential concept here. The goal is to endure the discomfort of making mistakes, and translate it—transform it, even—into learning. That is the true essence of confidence. Underlying genuine confidence is the courage to be uncomfortable, the willingness to take risks, which by definition means you might fail.
#5: Neutralize Rejection
This is an extension of the fourth principle, because many times the failures will come in the form of some type of rejection. It’s important enough to be its own principle.
I want you to develop what I call your rejection callus. This requires a combination of the critical insight that most rejection is not about you and the repeated exposure to rejection so that it becomes harmless.
#6: Suspend Your Judgment of Other People
Stop creating truths about people out of thin air, or casual observation, or bias. You’re wrong so often it’s a waste of energy, and you will miss out on experiences and people who will bring unexpected reward to your life.
Stop judging people with so little information. Their height, their weight, their attire, or their facial expression is not the whole story. Not even a tiny part. Not to mention that most of the time you just have a snapshot of them, not their whole life. This could be the worst day of their life, or the best. Or anywhere in between. How would you know? It’s not helping you to do this.
Suspending judgment is the first step in a new encounter. Be open to who they might be. Judgment will block your positivity. I can attest to that.
#7: Let Go of Other People’s Opinions and Judgments About You
The bolder you become, the more people will have sneering judgments about you. Most often these are rooted in their insecurity, resentment, and jealousy. They secretly would like to be you. But this is the Insight: people constantly have judgments about other people’s actions and behavior as if their lives are perfect and they’ve figured everything out. Guess what? They haven’t. No one has. So, ignore them.
The greatest achievers in the world had people who detested them, railed against their every action, and belittled their every achievement. You will achieve boldness only when you stop caring about unimportant opinions. And only you get to decide who is important. Fairly empowering, isn’t it?
#8: Most of the Time, Nothing Bad Happens
This is the reality when it comes to being bold. All those terrible things that you imagine might happen never happen. Worse, we decide to call something bad when it isn’t. Embarrassment can be funny. Rejection can elicit empathy for us. Actual bad things can happen in your life, but not because you are bold. Usually, because you weren’t.
#9: Your Brain Needs Regular Washing
You need to overwrite the negative messages you tell yourself with positive ones. Change every “I can’t” to “I can.” Every “I’m not” to “I am.” Just say the opposite. You might call it brainwashing yourself, but most of our brains need a good washing.
Rinse out that bad programming the second you hear yourself replaying it. Brainwashing is actually rather fun to do. You simply take something you’ve said you hate or that you’re not good at, and tell yourself, out loud, every day, that you love it or you are really good at it.
You will find that in about two weeks, if you do it four or five times a day, you will have reprogrammed yourself. Dig up some of your bad lines of code and overwrite them one at a time.
#10: Never Be Rude, Inconsiderate, or Cruel
I do not advocate getting ahead at other people’s expense. That’s not what true boldness and self-confidence are about. True boldness is founded in a belief in abundance, which means you don’t have to harm anyone else to achieve your goals or your dreams.
When you get there, it doesn’t mean you get to look down on everyone. Cruel behavior is the sign of a lost soul, in my mind.
When I talk about being bold, I’m not suggesting a lack of manners, or discourtesy, or rudeness. But, many times, we use being considerate as an excuse for being reticent, not taking action, or not making a bold move. You tell yourself you don’t want to make people uncomfortable, which is just your excuse for not being bold. Most bold moves don’t harm anyone, unless it’s their ego or the fact that they are envious of the bold person.
It All Starts Here
Embrace these principles, and you will be one step closer to being superbold. You may find yourself in a situation where being bold will change your life forever, just like it did for me. Be the person who acts, who steps up and discovers the hidden gifts that only come to the bold.
So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you are hesitant to speak up, tap into some of these principles. After all, your next big opportunity might be just one bold move around the corner. And it all starts with these ten simple principles.
For more advice on becoming bold, you can find Superbold on Amazon.
Fred Joyal is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and business advisor. Along with a lucrative career in advertising and marketing, he co-founded the most successful dentist referral service in the country, 1-800-DENTIST. He has written two books on marketing, dabbled in stand-up and improv comedy, acted in bad movies and excellent TV commercials, and visited over forty-four countries around the world. He has an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Rhode Island, perhaps because of his generous donations. He once beat Sir Richard Branson in chess and was also a question on Jeopardy!. He is an avid cyclist, a below-average tennis player, and an even worse golfer.