“You are born to be brave.” The words seemed to flow so easily from Brené Brown but they did not just pass by. They stuck, resonating deeply.

“You are born to be brave.”

What simplicity. What power. What truth.

For us Boomers or Gen Xers, when we think back to our early days, we were ready and willing to do just about anything. We were brave. We put on our cape and flung ourselves out into the world to take on any challenge and work hard to achieve our goals.

We were brave. As time wears on us, we become petrified into routines. Being brave becomes muddled. Being brave turns to small, timid steps, leaving big leaps on the sidelines.

For Millennials and Generation Z, you are courageous and energized about the possibilities ahead. It is youthful bravery, unscarred by the continuous waves of time. You are brave. Big leaps are taken.

Born to be brave. Sustain it.

Will it stick through years ahead? A key question.

If we are born to be brave, then how do we sustain our bravery? This is really the heart of the statement.

Living requires bravery.

Each day, we face choices. Taking the path less traveled, yet more meaningful, requires being brave. Each day, we build or repair relationships. Living entails relationships and, let’s face it, some people are just difficult. It takes bravery to engage. Living fully means being centered in our purpose. Finding our purpose, pursuing it, and enhancing it takes us being brave. How do we sustain it?

Being a leader requires bravery.

It is bravery to admit mistakes, make changes, engage in challenging conversations, ask people to leave, embrace people to make them better, coach others to find their purpose in work, and stand up for what is right and against what is wrong. Leadership requires bravery. How do we sustain it?

If we are born brave, isn’t it innate within us?

Brené Brown argues part of being brave is being vulnerable. I am not an expert on this viewpoint but there is relevancy in this argument as you listen to her TEDx talk. Each day in living, we are certainly vulnerable. Each day in leading, we are certainly vulnerable. We are vulnerable because we are imperfect human beings. No matter what our ego may tell us, this is a fact. In realizing everyone is imperfect, our bravery increases.

There has to be more to it than just this?

Beyond realizing everyone is imperfect, we also need to recognize bravery is stoked by moral principles. We have to do know what we believe and what we are willing to stand up for and lead by. There needs to be something deep within our soul we need to live out loud each and every day. When we don’t know what we really believe, our bravery takes a hit. We become unsure of our actions. Worse, we become unsure if it is right for us to speak up, speak out.

Without firm principles, we become flimsy in the wind. At first, we feel like a single strand of wheat bending with each gust and then we step back and see a crowded field all waving in the flow of a breeze. Bravery gets lost in the lack of life and leadership principles.

So, if we are born to be brave, we need to understand everyone is imperfect and we need to know what core principles we will live and lead by. Do we need more?

We need our purpose. Principles are how we will live and lead, and purpose is the energy to move us forward. Purpose is discussed often and understood little. It becomes just a word in an inspirational phrase. It needs to be more.

Purpose puts a lift in our step and a burning ember inside. Work complicates things. Although work and purpose can reside closely together, it doesn’t always happen that way. Work may be an enabler to what our larger purpose is. Work isn’t all our life but our purpose should be embedded in our life. In other words, our purpose can be what we do outside our normal work hours.

We need to think about what fires us up and makes us and others better. Purpose is:

“…a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond self.” The Path to Purpose, William Damon

I like this definition by William Damon as it relates it to us personally as well as to something beyond us. Purpose embraces self and connects to others.

Being brave needs to be more than words written on our souls or a piece of paper.

It needs to be placed into action. Bravery requires action. Without action, bravery doesn’t exist. It is like a tree falling in the forest; no one notices. More importantly, no one feels the positive impact of our bravery.

Bravery requires a rhythm of action. Being brave is not a one-time activity. Being brave requires daily deeds. It requires a rhythm of doing, putting into action our principles and our purpose. Bravery requires a Billy Joel River of Dreams drumbeat in our spirit of action.

We are born to be brave. To sustain it, we need to:

  • Realize we are all imperfect.
  • Know what our core life and leadership principles are.
  • Discern our purpose and live it where it is right and needed – before, during, or after work.
  • Develop a rhythm of action, placing our principles and purpose into life’s arena – full of tangible, meaningful deeds.

For earlier generations, rekindling our bravery is key. For future generations, preserving bravery is essential.

Do you believe we are born to be brave?

If so, how do you make your bravery stick?