I recently read the book Gone With the Wind again after many years. It’s a powerful masterpiece of a novel set in the Civil War era. I am always struck by the the larger-than-life personality of the book’s main character, Scarlett O’Hara. Beautiful, strong-willed, courageous, and fearless — to me she is the epitome of a woman who is BOLD. Every time I read the book, I am amazed, appalled, and envious at this woman and how she lived her life in the novel. That’s a pretty powerful reaction to a fictional character!
The Contradiction in Boldness
History and literature are both filled with such women. Here are a few examples: Mother Theresa. Katherine Hepburn. Eleanor Roosevelt. Amelia Earhart. Amy Schumer. Tina Fey. We see how they live and how they behave, and we think: “Wow, that was a bold thing to do!” — and — “I can’t believe she did that!” Truth be told, that statement is not often meant to be a compliment — especially when it comes to women. Something about that word makes us squirm. Why is that?
There is something about the notion of being bold that makes us say “We aren’t supposed to do that and “I could never do that.” If we are honest, there is also a little voice inside that whispers, “I wish I could do that.” The contradiction and ambiguity around this concept calls to us and repels us at the same time.
That leads us, especially women, to a larger dilemma. We want to live boldly, and at the same time we think we will be “bad” people if we do so. Many of us were raised to be nice, to play by the rules, and to not make waves. That keeps things safe, but it also keeps us from taking risks and going for what we want from life. It keeps us frustrated and unable to bring our unique gifts to the world. It keeps us stuck.
Characteristics of Boldness
How do you know when someone is bold or acting boldly? Here are a few characteristics. Bold people:
- don’t care what others think
- live life on their terms
- take risks
- are courageous
- live fully and unapologetically
- are authentic
Do you see yourself in any of these? Which do you long for, and which do you reject? Your answers will help you with what comes next.
As the owner of New Vista Coaching, here is a “new vista” or new perspective for you to consider: You get to decide what being bold means to you.
We are all unique and approach situations differently. What is “bold” to one person may be business as usual for someone else. You do not have to accept the bold actions of someone else as an appropriate action for you in order to “go bold.”
The key is to examine an area of your life that requires personal boldness on your part. Look at the list above and decide which characteristics you need to move forward. That’s it. That does not mean it’s easy! It does mean that you have the capacity to bring forth boldness to take action in a way that is right for you.
Here is my personal definition of boldness:
Boldness is bringing your best self forward in a new way.
It takes boldness to try something new, to take a risk, to not care what the outcome may be or what other people may think.
Now it’s your turn. How do you define bold in a way that fits you?
Congratulations for taking a bold step in your life by defining and owning it for yourself!