What role do courage and fear play in your career and life?
Alan Weiss, guru to management consultants worldwide, delivered a seminar in Berlin that I had the privilege of attending. He asked the question, "When have you 'blown it' big time and how has that impacted your life?"
As I began to scan my mind for adult failures, he shared a swing and a miss from his childhood. Alan's example reminded me of a long-forgotten memory of ballet lessons when I was in the first grade. I loved those ballet lessons, until it came time for my first recital. The moment I saw that stage and all of those parents in the audience I said, "No!" When cajoling failed to persuade me, my father told me sternly, "If you don't dance tonight, there'll be no more ballet lessons." Whew! I was saved from my stage fright and 'no more ballet lessons' was a small price that I was willing to pay!
Reflecting on that memory I ask myself, "How many times have I declined to dance? How many opportunities have I missed because I was afraid of looking foolish or failing?"
Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business & Life, by Gay Gaddis, is my most recent read. I simply couldn't resist the title! Gaddis's Texas roots and cowgirl courage are apparent as she describes launching and growing her acclaimed ad agency T3, yet she focuses on team and the courage of others. She provides advice along the way, with such phrases as 'ride high in the saddle,' 'build your confidence on your competence,' 'design your own life,' 'be authentic' and much more, each followed with details, explanations and examples.
While I don't agree with every word she's written, I do agree with most and was stimulated by all. I especially enjoyed how she tied her 'lessons' together by starting each chapter with a picture and short story about an early 1900's era cowgirl. In the late 1800's, Rose Henderson attempted to enter a bronc-busting contest in Cheyenne Wyoming, but was told women could not participate. She persisted and was allowed to compete. Fox Hastings left a private boarding school at the age of sixteen to join Irwin Brothers Wild West show as a trick rider. In 1924, she made her first appearance as a bulldogger. These women had Cowgirl Power. Gaddis translates that power into today's daily life and leadership.
When have you declined to dance? When have you let fear prevent you from doing something you wanted to do? When have you taken, "No," for an answer when you might have prevailed if you'd persisted? Let's all dance, dance with life, dance like no one's watching!
Let's all be courageous and "cowgirl up!"