The following is adapted from Superbold.
My friend Will has a six-year-old boy, and whenever his son is hesitant, shy, or worried about what other kids might think, Will tells him this: “Boldness is a superpower.” Will heard this from me in a lecture a few years ago, and not only has he never forgotten it, he drills it into his son’s consciousness so that he never misses out on anything in life.
I didn’t develop confidence growing up. I was a nerdy kid with glasses who skipped the second grade, so I was always smaller and younger than my classmates. And so, I became painfully shy. I let it define me. Until I got so angry at how much I was missing out on that I figured out how to redefine myself. I met bold people, and I marveled at their behavior, at how much they didn’t care what people thought. They just lived wonderful lives.
Then I used every resource I could to transform myself. Now I get excited at the idea of getting up in front of 2,000 people. I walk into a huge empty conference hall and think, “I would love to be in front of a crowd in this room.” With my boldness, I create change. My actions, simple as they may be, ripple out into the world and have an impact.
You know those people you’ve been labeling as “charismatic”? It’s their boldness. It’s coming off them in waves, and they’re moving through the world with it, making the changes they want. Many people—and I know this because they’ve told me—perceive me as charismatic for precisely this reason.
Cultivate your boldness. Everything flows from it. Don’t believe me? In this article, I’ll explain exactly why boldness can completely change your life and how you can live a life of greater purpose by embracing boldness as your own superpower.
What Opportunities Have You Missed?
One of the biggest reasons to develop your boldness is because you’ve already paid the price for your unboldness. Hesitation haunts us. Sometimes the opportunity passes in just a few seconds, but other times we’ll burn up five or ten minutes, or longer, letting that attractive woman or man stand alone in the corner and, just as we summon the nerve to vocalize something, someone else walks up to them.
Or the right moment to ask for a promotion passes because the other person at your level asked first and got it. We let chances slip away, and we’ve done it so often, we think it’s normal.
Undoubtedly, you’ve experienced more than once how hesitation is not rewarded. You’ve watched that window of opportunity close as you overponder a situation and play out scenarios in your head. It’s not really because you’re shy or lack confidence. It’s because you’re not prepared. You haven’t developed the right skills yet – you haven’t honed your superpower: boldness.
With Boldness, You Will Always Be Ready
The biggest WHY in terms of developing your boldness is not the day-to-day impact on your life which, don’t get me wrong, I consider very important. The real WHY is because you never know when that moment is going to come, that moment when you are going to need this skill for what may become one of the most important days or events or encounters in your life. You don’t know if that will occur tomorrow or next month, or ten years from now. But you’ll want to be up to the task.
One of the most important reasons to master this skill is because there will be singular moments, opportunities to speak or act that will occur only once in your life, and you’ll want to be ready. That’s where superboldness comes in. You will always be ready.
You know the expression, “No one died wishing they spent more time at the office.” This will be true for you with respect to your boldness. You will not regret your boldest moves, but rather your most cautious ones, your most hesitant ones, your words unspoken, your risks not taken.
The Reward of Genuine Boldness
The power of boldness that you need to harness involves more than just being comfortable meeting people. Genuine boldness means deciding to put yourself in situations that most people normally wouldn’t. Shy behavior doesn’t just keep us from saying things, but from doing things. Our hesitation ends up preventing us from having unique and satisfying experiences all the time. In essence, boldness is simply moving from inaction to action.
But that is a big move. Most people choose inaction. Most people stay in their comfort zone 24/7. It’s a whole lot easier. But if you’re dissatisfied with life so far, and want to discover what’s really possible, you’re going to have to make that crucial, simple move from inaction to action.
Most people go through life dodging imaginary bullets, and most of the time nothing is aimed at them at all. Or is as harmless as a marshmallow. The reward of genuine boldness is discovering how to act boldly and feeling the thrill of it. And seeing the power of it. And the joy. And most of all, the fulfillment of your dreams and greater purpose.
Boldness in Action
Let me give you a detailed example of boldness in action.
Recently, there was a special meeting at a convention I was at, a dinner exclusively for CEOs of companies that I do business with. I was not invited to the dinner, but there were a number of people I wanted to meet, so I walked into the cocktail party portion of the evening. No one stopped me, and I didn’t have a badge on to identify myself or say I belonged, and so I just started introducing myself.
Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t entirely comfortable. But I was acting like I was comfortable—smiling, introducing myself to people, connecting to them with my eyes and attention. And when someone who was in charge of the badges asked my name, I told her the truth, that I wasn’t invited. She didn’t ask me to leave, but told me that people would eventually sit down to eat, and they only had so many seats, and at that point I would have to leave.
Later, as the cocktail party transitioned into a sit-down dinner, she came up to me and I thought, “OK, now I’m getting the boot!” Instead, she said, “Some people didn’t show up for dinner, so you’re welcome to stay.”
This all happened because I followed one of my prime boldness rules: always wait until someone else tells you that you can’t; don’t be the one to stop yourself. If it’s seriously important that you shouldn’t be doing something or shouldn’t be somewhere, someone will stop you. But that will usually be the worst of repercussions. Which means…NOTHING BAD HAPPENED!
That night I met several new business contacts, which was my goal. But if I had gotten thrown out, hey, I wasn’t supposed to be there anyway, but at least I tried. Also, the hostess clearly observed me interacting with people and assumed I belonged there, so she invited me to stay. This situation demonstrates an essential rule of boldness: never be the one stopping you.
Bold People Change the World
As I present people with the possibility of becoming bolder, one of the classic defense mechanisms they default to is saying, “This just isn’t me.” From wherever you are on the boldness scale, you can choose to grow, advance, and elevate yourself to untold heights of boldness until you are superbold, summoning it whenever you choose.
You’ll still be that essential you. Just a more wonderful version.
What I’ve observed over more than sixty years is only the bold individuals change the world, those who are undaunted by other people’s judgments and daring enough to chase the highest ideals and the biggest dreams. You know their names: Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Meryl Streep, Elon Musk.
Nothing prevents you from adding your name to that list.
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.