The dictionary defines it as “showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.” But I like the thesaurus description much better: daring, intrepid, brave, valiant, valorous, fearless, dauntless, audacious, adventurous, heroic, plucky, spirited, confident, assured, swashbuckling…
I love the word “swashbuckling,” as it evokes images of pirates and sleek clipper ships running fast with the wind. Just imagine if we dressed up as pirates when describing our vision of winning to employees and stakeholders! Think it might change how they hear the message?
Bold can also be a word to describe your actions, your drive, your efforts, and your organization. But only if you’ve created habits and behaviors that constantly progress you and your team towards your vision of winning and excellence.
People are attracted to bold. Employees want to believe in something big. They want to pursue goals that push the limits, and they yearn to achieve something that has never been done before. They want to take bold steps to achieve their dreams and have a significant impact on their customers and the world.
The opposite approach is to be timid. And who wants to be known as bashful, fearful, apprehensive, timorous, trepid, intimidated, mousy, cowardly, faint-hearted, pusillanimous, or wimpy – especially by their customers?
Timid takes the safe course of action when the riskier one would yield much bigger rewards. Timid operates with a fear of failure mindset rather than a “we play to win!” attitude. Timid settles for the field goal rather than going for the touchdown when it’s fourth and goal on the one-yard line. Timid may protect you from the pain of failure, but it won’t put you in a position of market leadership.
How do you get bold?
Pause and get clear on winning. But make sure it’s a big win. In football, teams want to win their divisions. But what they (and their fans) really want is to win the Super Bowl. Define what the Super Bowl looks like for your business or industry and then go out and win it!
Push the envelope. Bold doesn’t involve doing the same things over and over again. Remember the old Star Trek theme: to boldly go where no man has gone before. Fire up your Starship Enterprise and lead your company, your market, or your entire industry to a place it’s never been before. Keep in mind that what made you successful today will not necessarily make you successful tomorrow.
Project a bold image. For example, Starbucks currently has its baristas wearing red stickers about Bold. Of course, it refers to a new coffee they’re promoting. But no matter the context, the word “bold” reaches out and grabs your attention.
Think about some of the memorable tag lines or slogans that project bold. Nike’s ageless “Just do it!” Gatorade’s new slogan, “Win from within.” Apple’s “Think different.” Fed-X’s “When it positively, absolutely has to be there overnight.” Or even the Olympic phrase, “Go for the gold!” These exude bold. They draw a line in the sand and dare you to cross it. They make you want to get off the couch and achieve something big.
Act decisively. One disadvantage of today’s thoroughly wired world is that we can easily get paralyzed by information overload. The tendency to wait until we have gathered all the data before moving forward with a new project or product offering can be hard to overcome. Except that we will never have all the data.
Instead, we need to gather what we can from diverse sources and make sure we have considered as many different perspectives as possible. Then move forward boldly and aggressively, knowing that our plans will change along the way.
Most of all, position yourself as a winner by your thoughts, words, actions, and deeds. People want to align with a winner. And in today’s markets, it takes boldness to win.
If you’re not bold, what are you waiting for? Things to slow down? Fewer emails to distract you from winning? The light at the end of the tunnel (which is really a train coming at you full speed)?
The time to be bold is now! Being timid is not a goal or desired state, it is a default when we don’t pause and get it right, make it big, and stay focused on achieving something!