B is for Brave, Bold, and Bossy


B_Brave_Bold_BossyLast week Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts launched the Ban Bossy campaign.  I really applaud Sheryl and all she's doing to get the conversations out there.

As a bossy woman I don't think we shouldn't ban it, rather "bring" it.

B is for brave, bold and bossy.  To be a bossy woman it takes bravery and the ability to step out of your comfort zone to be bold.  If I had a quarter for every time someone has called me "bossy", I'd be worth as much as Sheryl.

For me bossy is the net effect of two very powerful dynamics.

Being brave ...and being bold.  Bravery is about mustering the courage to act and  being bold is about being imaginative and going beyond what conventional action might lend.   So when you combine brave and bold, you get different, and yes in women you get bossy.

Bravery is the first step.   Safe is easy and bravery is hell.

Yep, I said that and even wrote it.  You have to go to hell first though, to get to heaven, my friends.  In my work, I attribute my bravery to my first job out of college.  I worked for a top direct marketing firm with blue chip clients.   It was the perfect dream job. Within a year I and ~100 others were let go due to layoffs.  Ultimately the company was being investigated by the USPS for fraud.  What a blessing in disguise!  Unemployed and saddled with school debt, I ventured to get a new role, after crying my eyes out thinking how unfair it was and how it "happened to me".

After pulling my head out of my "whine" glass, what ensued was 8 years of consulting roles, projects, and getting to see a myriad of different work environments.  That one single experience opened my mind to being nimble when it came to my career.  I took the attitude that staying in one place forever wasn't what grew you.  You grow by taking risks and moving your own cheese.

About 2 years ago, I left a comfortable spot to challenge myself in a new company.   It was just something I knew I needed to do.  It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my career.  I had to leave people I knew well and jump from a place of comfort into the unknown.  And the unknown wasn't just dark and scary, but terribly unpopular.  Oh, people thought I was crazy.  The job was a dream come true to apply my experience to help an executive team in one of the largest turnarounds in the history of my industry.  People think big jobs, titles and paychecks are glamorous.  It was hard work.  I felt lonely at times and often wondered why I dared to leave.   I dared because I wanted to stretch, to grow, to try something beyond who I was.   It tested me.  No longer was it good enough to be competent.  I had to step up and lead.  I had to take tough decisions and stand firm on what I believed and knew was the right thing to do.  And I did.  Looking back, I'm so glad I chose hell over heaven.

The point is it's in times of bravery we find out what we are made of.  We push ourselves and become better.   We learn who matters and what matters most.  If you get the chance to be brave, go for it.  Safe is B for boring.

mom1Being bold is the second step.  Being bold is about taking unconventional action.

When I was a kid, I broke my leg skating.  My parents didn't believe anything was wrong.  I had a slight flare for the dramatics so my leg went undiagnosed for a few weeks.  (It's okay Mom and Dad I forgive you.)  After finding out I was indeed in legitimate pain, I was put in a cast and laid up for several weeks while I was left to heal.  The skating incident was truly my fault.  I didn't lace up my skates, fell and broke my leg.   And because sitting wasn't who I was at 7 (nor is it now at 38), I managed to corral my sisters and neighborhood friends to make cards that we would sell to anyone we could convince to buy them to collect money to fund my medical expenses.   It wasn't that my parents needed the money, it was that we found a creative way to channel the energy.

The point is when we are bold we are able to take ordinary situations and make them different.  And when you can bring people with you, your bold factor multiplies.  (So does your bossiness!)

I'm not trying to be braggadocios but I'm proud of these moments.  It's taken me almost 30 years to recognize they are worthy of mentioning. I tell you so you can think about the times you've been brave and bold and openly admit and embrace your inner bossy.  You have it.  You just need to find it and bring it.

Embrace your bossy.  Here are three simple How-To's.

w-2Be brave.  Take the not so easy path.  If you're feeling good, then you are in a safe zone. Repeat after me: safe is easy  Bravery is hell. Break open and find something new to do.  Try a new role, work for a different company, or reach out to that person you've been dying to get to know.  If you don't try, you'll only regret not doing it.  Life is too short!

Be bold.  Add color to your life and work.  Try to position yourself to think differently about the role you are in or the position you've been given.  Instead of bringing the kids to do something they've always done, try a new activity.  Being bold doesn't take much but thinking differently is hard.  Doing the same stuff is easy.  Be bold.  You've got this.  You just have to practice it over and over to make it a habit.

Don't know how to do 1 or 2?  Surround yourself with the "bossy".  Create a village around you that's different from you.  Hint: When you do that, you're technically doing 1 and 2.  Imagine that.   Read what brave, bold women and men do.  Study the "greats".  I read Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ronald Reagan, and a handful of authors.  Follow people who just seem a tad bit crazy.    

Make no mistake.  I am not encouraging arrogance.  A bossy woman is one who is embraces herself.  She isn't afraid to try new things, do the unconventional and toot her own horn.  And she sure has the confidence to stand on her values and beliefs and fights for what's right.

So Sheryl, let's prepare our girls and women to be the very bossy women they can.  

We won't be liked by all and we certainly won't be popular, but...

Women who behave seldom make history.

What are you doing to be brave? bold? bossy?  I'd love to hear your stories!  Bring it!

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