Most of the things you read about at this time of the year are either looking back or looking forward – “2014, was a year that saw…” Or, “in 2015, we predict that…”
Like most people, when I read the year in review it feels like a Google search result for the top news stories in 2014. They’re interesting to look at, but not very informative. They read like a very busy family’s holiday card.
On the flip side, the predictions for the upcoming year are either a step and repeat from last year’s, or they’re so vague that I’m not really sure what to do with them. Maybe it stems from a fear of being wrong. Once you’ve said it, it’s out there.
But there is one thing that I’ve heard both as a prediction and a review that has been consistently 100% accurate year-in and year-out: Be bold, now.
To be fair, I first heard it in my first year of college in a debate and persuasion class. On the first day the professor walked in without saying a word, walked up to the board and wrote: “Be bold, now.” He said, “That is what I will judge you on, how you’ve been judged before now, and how you will be judged in life.” That was advice that came long before the iPhone and social media. It was sound advice then, and possibly even more so now.
So what does it mean to have a bold idea?
1. A bold idea is driven by a vision.
When you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, making any decision around that becomes much easier. Bold doesn’t need to ‘take a minute.’ Bold doesn’t ‘get back to you.’ Instead, bold is decisive, definitive and inspiring because there is a clear vision to which it aspires.
2. A bold idea recognizes risk.
One of the benefits of having a clear vision is that you can also recognize any risk to that bold idea and also have the ability to evaluate the risk as threatening or worth taking.
Richard Branson said, “It is only by being bold that you get anywhere. If you are a risk-taker, then the art is to protect the downside.”
Sometimes being bold also means saying no. Not every new layer or addition to an idea is a good one. In fact, saying “No” may be the boldest move you can make because it forces more focus on your original idea and helps define the guardrails of your vision.
3. A bold idea is infectious.
One of the truest measures for a bold idea is how much it catches on with other people, and I n the end, you have to be able to sell your idea. As the author of your idea, you are its greatest salesperson. Use that.
4. So why be bold now?
More than ever the clutter and noise in the world/marketplace/media is deafening. To stand above that clutter you must be bold, not only in your ideas but in your actions. You must have a clear vision that you hold onto and defend. You must be able to not only assess risk, but sometimes take it. And you must be able to inspire an army of both people you know and advocates as well as strangers who can advocate on your behalf through their platforms and networks. Success favors the bold.
A bold idea can start out as small as a mustard seed, but it doesn’t have to stay that size. It can and should grow, and how much so is dependent on how bold your actions can be to champion, defend, and perpetuate that bold idea.
As a culture we reward the bold, we celebrate it and we long for it. As one year comes to a close and another starts, what people will really remember and what they will look for are bold ideas. We can put trendy buzzword wrappers around them, but in the end boldness wins.