It Takes Courage

It’s inevitable that I will get the question. You’d think by now that I would learn to expect it…that I would prepare for it…or have a response that would be purely second nature. But I don’t. I’ve no standard answer that automatically inspires anyone in the moment to take action. And, to this day, I neither expect the question nor do I have a rehearsed or standard riposte committed to memory.

So what is “the question?”

The question faces those who see disruption all around them. They believe survival requires change and they aspire to fight for transformation. But, at some point in their quest to pursue a new course, a direction in which they deeply believe, they will ask reluctantly, even desperately, “How do I convince others to see what I see” or “how can I get those in control to recognize the importance of what’s happening around us so that we can move forward in the right direction?”

While my response in each moment always attempts to zero-in on the individual circumstance, the truest, most genuine answer that I can share is that…to bring about change does not take technology, it takes courage. And, this is why change is not a commodity. Change is not easy nor is it formulaic. But I can say this with the utmost conviction, change.is.inevitable and it is yours to define.

We live in disruptive times. As such, everything we know transcends into everything we once knew. How we communicate, connect, discover, learn and share is changing. New and emerging technology is becoming increasingly relentless and it is forcing evolution or complete transformation. And, it touches your personally and professionally. In our own way, we each are gravitating toward dissonance or disarray and it can be distressful. As students, parents, role models, employees, managers, entrepreneurs, artists, or some or all of the above, we will at some point collide with disruption. And in that moment, we will have a choice to make. We either fall down, choose to embrace change, or we will see the possibilities beyond what’s immediately apparent to pave the way toward a more meaningful outcome.

But again, it takes courage. It takes courage to see what others don’t or do what others won’t. It takes courage to push forward when pushed back.

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one, yet it is the very thing that all leaders share. See, courage takes great strength to stand in the face of pain or inevitable grief and without it, your vision, no matter how brilliant or essential, is merely a masterpiece painted on a napkin—a promise that is never fully realized.

We stand today upon a foundation of uncertainty and apprehension. Everything is changing. What is constant however, is the absence of clarity, direction or answers. To tell you that there is an easy path toward transformation or that there are a series of “top 10 ways” to help you change the perspective of leadership or those around you is, well, misleading or a complete falsehood.

Contrary to popular belief, there are no rules for revolutionaries…just as there are no leaders who don’t continually strive to earn a position of leadership. It takes courage to be a change agent, to rise up and lead the way when others are filled with fear. It takes courage to walk in a different direction when others walk along a contrasting path. Most important, it takes courage to drive persistence to overcome resistance…to find comfort outside your comfort zone when the promise of reward is ambiguous. For, it is the vision to see where you need to go and the conviction to shepherd the march toward relevance that earns the greatest rewards of all, leadership, significance, and advocacy.

This is your time…

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

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  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Thank you for inspiration, Brian!

  • Terence Chan

    Well said Brian. Perhaps a pragmatic first step to change is to conduct an objective assessment of what is stopping businesses from progressing forward in the first place. Positive change is as much a pitch as it is a modern necessity, and senior management won’t buy in unless we can successfully context desired change in a way that they can instantly relate to – that it is a continuous learning process and not an end in itself.

    The classic planning cycle still works well in this regard;
    1. Where are we?
    2. Why are we there?
    3. Where could we be?
    4. How do we get there?
    5. Are we getting there?

    Promoting change as an instant fix to quick ROI improvements and “the promised land” puts too much undue starting pressure on both the approvers and doers, and company constraints - a very dangerous game to play indeed.

     ”Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” – James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, Flight Of The Buffalo

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

       Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and also the Belasco and Stayer quote. I agree, change for the sake of change is also akin to adoption of new technology for the sake of doing so or saying that “we’re customer centric” because it’s now trendy to do. Change is because of opportunity or risk of losing opportunities. But you’re right, it’s either a pitch…or it’s because leadership sees a new direction and pushes in a new direction.

  • http://jivaldi.com Marketing Gal

    Thanks for the post. We all need to aspire to a positive change. 

  • Bet on America

    Sorry but this article seems to be content free. You could take a dozen platitudes from the web on courage and slap this article together. It comes across as simple as A is A. 

  • http://twitter.com/GetBillG Bill Gibeault

    Brian,
    Just read this post a second time.  I guess it offered me some encouragement and maybe just a little hope that there is someone out there who gets it !  Sorry if that sounds too dramatic. It is not my intent.  For the past 8 years I have been on a journey of sorts trying to get others to see what I have learned.    It’s not easy swimming upstream while the bean counters want answers or money.  For me what keeps me fighting is BELIEF.  I believe the old rules of business are a bust and the answers to success lie not just in our bottom lines but how we treat people both stakeholders in our collective businesses and society at large.  Thanks again for your words of encouragement.  

  • http://about.me/miketrap Mike Troiano

    Great piece, @BrianSolis:twitter . Change is the only constant. Key is to accept that, and focus on how you respond to it.

  • Jose Palomino

    Courage is definitely key, and goes hand-in-hand with adapting.  Sometimes you’ll be going in one direction and suddenly realize the importance to change directions – and FAST.  In order to adapt, you’ll need to have that courage — because we all know how scary it is to leave your chartered course.  But today, it’s all about adaptation — about being willing to take risks and learn something new.

  • http://www.valueprop.com/blog Jose Palomino

    Courage is definitely key, and goes hand-in-hand with adapting.  Sometimes you’ll be going in one direction and suddenly realize the importance to change directions – and FAST.  In order to adapt, you’ll need to have that courage — because we all know how scary it is to leave your chartered course.  But today, it’s all about adaptation — about being willing to take risks and learn something new.

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  • Nadine

    Hi Brian – great post… It has always taken courage to institute change and there are many examples throughout history… Rosa Parks comes to mind immediately… Excellent insight. Thank you.

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  • http://bacchusp.wordpress.com/ Winn Taylor

    What a great series Brian. Very inspiring and passionate. A quote that has always stuck with me, “Courage is action in the face of fear.” Truly we so often use fear as a guide as to what not to do, when in reality it quite often is on the fringe to the unfamiliar…the unknown. And I have recently begun to consider that it is a bold leader who is willing to take responsibility for the inevitable consequence in order to create opportunity.

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  • Midwest Farm Girl

    Thanks for the inspirational message! This really hit home for me as I just moved to a new city for a new job, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Come to find out, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! All it took was a little bit of courage to step out of my comfort zone!

    • http://FasTake.com/ Yacine Baroudi – @FasTake

      Good luck Midwest Farm Girl!

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      Congratulations on your move. Good for you…

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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