On Being Brave

Back in January, I chose bravery as one of my words for the year. Here we are, just past the mid-point of the year, and I’m reflecting on this word. What is bravery, exactly? How has bravery shown up this year? What will bravery look like as we move through the rest of the year?

What is Bravery?

I used to think of bravery as a gutsy, confident, directed momentum. I thought of it as facing adversity, going head on into the unknown...pictures of warriors and strong women defined bravery for me. Now, as I’m practicing being brave in this new chapter of my life with The Hivery, bravery takes on a different form. 

Bravery isn't necessarily dramatic, full theater, and bravado... 

Bravery can be softer and internal. Bravery is really about openness. Although gutsiness and big victories are impressive, the bravery that I’m working on right now isn’t in opposition to anyone or anything outside of myself. Bravery is about the willingness to try things, have them fail, or even just to have them land in mediocrity. Bravery isn’t an act of doing any one thing. Bravery is a process of uncovering yourself. 

Openness + Vulnerability = Subject to Criticism

When I started The Hivery, I found (and still have!) a deep determination inside to bravely leap forward, even, or especially, when I'm scared. As I put myself out there more and more, I’ve gotten praise and beautiful notes of encouragement. Those feel great. But I’ve also had setbacks, changes in direction, and yes, criticism. This is where real bravery kicks in. Instead of retreating to safety or letting opposition subtly creep into our psyche, the challenge lies in staying the course.

I’ve encountered more criticism (or critics that cuts deeper) as I’ve become more clear on my path. We like to think that when we find our path, the road becomes easy. We’re in the zone. Things flow. When you’re in your flow, it feels great. But, reality is that sometimes being in your flow can make the challenges feel scarier. We need to be brave to start out on our true path, and we need to sustain and practice courage to weather the criticism and stay on course.

Challenges against bravery come in all shapes and sizes. 

Maybe you had somebody accuse you of stealing their idea. Or they dismiss what you’ve done, or criticize your work. Or fire you, or don’t want to partner with you, or cancel your contract. It feels awful. Maybe, you think, you aren’t on the right path after all. Maybe you think the whole idea was dumb, or that you simply don’t have what it takes.

Criticism shakes you up, but is not, I repeat IS NOT, an indicator of failure. 

It’s simply a reaction in someone else...you’ve created an energy, an opinion, a sea change. Being brave is staying true to the exploration of your special gifts to this world, even when others are laughing, speculating, talking about you, or providing their “you should” feedback…Your only job is to explore you; not to be guided by others.

We can’t negotiate with bravery and attempt to weave it in with others’ judgements. To be brave is to live as sincere, authentic leaders...as women who embody the qualities in humanity: kindness, humility, courage, and compassion. This is our quest. 

What does it take to live a brave life? 

To live with bravery doesn’t take money, education, time, advice, or any of the other resources we use as excuses from taking action. You don’t need experience to be brave. You need to live your idea. Over-thinking quickly becomes contrived, false, superficial, and linear. Bravery is showing us who you are, what you’re saying, what you’re living, what you’re experiencing...not a contrived notion of what you think you should do or should create. Shoulds have no place in the bravery handbook.

The biggest barrier to your bravery is you. 

External critique can foster internal critique. It’s the inner-critic who we really have to watch out for. Being mindful of the ways that internal critique can sneak into your head and turn into self-doubt, is very important. When you notice that you’re holding back or hesitating, it’s usually because you’re afraid. For great fulfillment and living with purpose, you have to be brave.

Bravery isn’t just my personal word this year, it’s a Hivery word. I’m awed by the bravery I see at The Hivery every day. Bravery that shows up as authenticity, openness, and taking a chance. These are just a few of the acts of bravery I’ve seen this year at The Hivery:

  • One of our members took the "What's Next" workshop last spring as her exploration into a new chapter. She just accepted a new part-time job
  • An author in our community signed her publishing contract last month
  • One member is embarking on a photographing travel project to create new work in the Southwest
  • One member launched her new app
  • One member went into production on her board game
  • Another member finalized a patent, after four years in the making

Whether you are gearing up to get started on a new path or feeling discouraged by the criticism you’ve faced as you put yourself out there, take courage. Your light has a place in the world. And you’re the only one with the unique gifts to make your contribution. Be brave. 

Ways to be brave with the Hivery:

Be Part of the Hivery Community. Even if you aren’t looking for a co-working opportunity, you can join our community. Benefit from our workshops and Discovery sessions. Be part of the brave conversations and inspiring community. *

* For the remainder of August, join our coworking space and your $50 joining fee will be waved. 

Schedule a consultation. Working on what's next for you? Need help clarifying what you do, who it's for, and how to act on it? Or, maybe you're trying to figure out how to use your skills and expertise in a way that feels meaningful to you? One of my favorite things to do at The Hivery is to offer private consultations on going back to work, changing careers, new business ideas and formation, personal branding, and action-mapping your next chapter.