It Takes Courage

[Today's guest post is by Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group.]

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, 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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  1. Great reminder. Courage is powerful and the hardest thing to come up with – it makes complete sense, but fear’s so omnipresent it fights courage and often wins the battle.

    Thanx for this post, Brian, it just tells me that the things I need to do in order to advance is to face fear and summon all of my courage.

  2. This was very inspirational Brian! Needed that! :)

  3. Thanks Brian – just saw this linked from your FB page. And it totally resonates.

    In a conversation with a friend this morning, she was asking if I thought her taking a particular course of action would be “the proper thing to do.”

    Her real question, as I pointed out, was “If I do this, will my client still like me, need me, keep me on?”

    The question should have been “Is this the right thing for the client?”

    It especially takes courage to advise the client as to the best course of action regardless of the consequences to one’s bottom line. I think it can be the defining point of how strongly you believe in your vision.

  4. What’s interesting to me are the different motivations behind those who have what you call the courage to achieve transformation and those who are always looking over their shoulders to see if anyone is caring to follow or approves of what they’re trying to do.

    Individuals who are intrinsically motivated don’t give a hoot if anyone else “gets” what they’re trying to do or not. They’re the natural revolutionaries and it’s just what they do. The process of transformation is the goal for them, not the outcome. Ironically, it is those who care less about extrinsic rewards (“will I be noticed?” “will this help me get promoted?” “will people start liking me? etc) and are intrinsically driven who typically make the biggest, most momentous marks on society.

    Do you think Steve Jobs cared about convincing others to see what he saw? I don’t. Not when someone at Apple commented that the company had one customer and he just died!

    So, yes, it does take courage. But even before that it perhaps takes some introspection: to ask yourself: why do I want this? what am I prepared to give up in order to try and bring about this change? And then, if the motivation is extrinsic in nature, to realize that this is where the fear resides, in the realization that you have no control over what others think or do and need to find a way to be 100% committed to acting for its own sake. To take on what others might consider to be a revolutionary cause because you can’t bear to do otherwise.


  1. [...] Brian Solis has an excellent guest post on gapingvoid which discusses courage in the face of unpredictable and relentless change: It Takes Courage [...]

  2. [...] Director of the Sensors & Instrumentation Knowledge Transfer Network. Read more . . .    [caption id="" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Image by Getty Images via Daylife"][/caption...90" />[/caption] Advances in sensing technology will help to reduce the wastage from 'farm to fork' [...]

  3. [...] Brian Solis Khürt WilliamsI am a husband, a father, a certified information system security professional, web developer, blogger and photographer who lives and works in the Princeton area. I am active in the Princeton area’s social media community and currently serve as President to the Princeton Macintosh Users Group. I am passionate about funding research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. You can sometimes find me sitting with my iPad drinking coffee in one of Princeton’s cafés.More Posts — Website Follow Me:Share this:FacebookShareStumbleUponDiggPrintEmailReddit [...]

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