Brilliance Demands Bravery

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If you make things and share them, your heart will at some point be broken. If you never share, it will harden. Your choice.

A reason that many people never step out into the unknown and try something risky is that they are afraid of rejection. There is a narrative playing in their mind that equates who they are with what they do, and the potential of having their self-image violated is simply too much to bear.

They would rather live with perceived invulnerability than take a chance and discover they have limits.

However, the brave souls who are willing to share what they see, make, and think, even if it is incomplete and imperfect, are the ones who move us all forward. The person who speaks up in a meeting, who makes art as a form of protest, or who shows up every single day to do the work (ignoring of the gravitational pull of mediocrity) pulls everyone else along with them, up the rugged mountain.

It is all too easy to pounce on those who are in the fray and criticize them for their audacity. We do this to politicians, to artists, and to business leaders who dare to stand out. If someone tries to climb a little bit, culture loves to pull them down. The subtle message we send is that it’s better not to try than to be seen as a fool.

I say it’s better to appear a fool than to abdicate your contribution and deeply regret your choices. It’s impossible for everything you make to be great, but one thing I do know is this: brilliance demands bravery. Without the courage to step up, stand out, and speak your mind, you will never empty out what is inside of you, and you will take your best work to the grave.

As my friend riCardo Crespo loves to say, “You can’t lie to the person in the mirror.” At the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the eye and ask “Was I brave today? Did I act in a way I’ll be proud of in five years?”

Be brave today, friends. Do something that matters to you.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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