Freedom Lies In Being Bold

Be Bold he said.  
She said to be Decisive.  
Feel Passionate and Free they told me. 
Robert Frost claims “Freedom lies in being bold”. 
Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”
“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess”, penned Isaac Newton.
“Be bold when others are scared.” claimed Thomas J. Powell
When making decisions, Life can be a very lonely.  
The taste of this freedom Frost speaks of; from being stuck in neutral, drives the Rare Leader™ to move forward, to be bold, and win glorious triumphs, even if checkered by failure.  After all, stuck in neutral brings no chance of success, only fear of repeated failure.  And, in the competitive marketplace of our new economy, repeated failure does not bode well.
I was 12 at the time.  My friends and I were selected by our parents to study the Catechism of the Lutheran Church.  Not many children are able to choose their own faith and which church or religion to follow.  At this young formative age, our parents make that choice for us. 
I remember sitting in Mike’s dad’s car.  Nolan had picked us up from Jr. High School to deliver us to church for class.  With Mike in the front, we sat in the back seat. 
In 1966, Nolan’s Mercury Park Lane cruiser had a rear window that rolled down.  Not the rear door window, but the rear window overlooking the trunk.  I’ll always remember that car, because of the long ride that first day of Catechism class.  We were all so very quiet, unusual for these four 7th graders.  
We were not certain why we were going, and what we would be expected to learn, but we knew the choice to attend had been made for us.  
I’ll also remember that ride in the Mercury cruiser, because Nolan smoked cigarettes.  He smoked as if his life depended on it.  And since our ability to live on depended on our not smoking, that rear window was our life saver.  
Pastor Hoven welcomed us that day.  For two years we made the trip to class.  And we learned about the ten commandments, the creed, the sacraments, prayers and confession.  We committed everything to memory, so we could pass the public examination and wear those white robes on confirmation day.  
I can still recite most of what I learned, and it became the foundation of my faith today.  However, perhaps the most valuable lesson was not found in the small handbook we carried for two years.  
At some point in our studies, something – somewhere must have happened.  Im guessing there was a major event in world news, politics, community, our church, or with a family member of our class.  The details of this triggering event has since escaped me.  But the impromptu lesson Pastor Hoven delivered that day as he put down the teachers manual, and strayed from the syllabus, changed my life forever.  
He taught “Freedom to Fail”. 
It was short, and for some reason it stuck.  Life, he began, is filled with choices you must make.  Not all of your choices can, or will be the best. 
I challenge you he said, to be bold, and speak loudly in your choice, and move forward, out of neutral.  If you fail, God will pick you up, and help you try again to make a better decision.  “That’s it?” I mumbled to myself.  I thought there must be more.
Pastor Hoven challenged us to live our lives on both sides of this story.  Be bold he said, make the best decision you can, and if you fail, someone who cares for you will be there to pick you up, dust you off, and encourage you to try again.  In that same way, look to your friends, your family or even a stranger who tries to be bold in their decision, but fails.  Be there to pick them up, dust them off, and help and encourage them to try again.  
With this lesson of a “Freedom to Fail”, the fear of repeated failure blows away, like foul cigarette smoke through that rear window of your life, and the fresh air of a new chance to try again with a better chance for success fills you with a Freedom you will taste forever.
I made this “Freedom to Fail” a granite building block in my personal foundation for Leading others.  I have used this lesson with my children, with friends, with colleagues, with clients, and with those rising stars on my Teams, who helped to make me successful.  
Remember, as a Rare Leader™, you must move toward a  solution, and be willing to take a risk.  Be Bold.  There’s a great freedom out there. 

  1. Who is there to pick you up if you fail?
  2. What decisions have brought you failure?
  3. Where can you find fresh air to try again after failure?
  4. When did you pick up others who failed with their decision?
  5. How will you help others who fail in their decisions?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.
4 Responses to Freedom Lies In Being Bold
  1. Greg
    February 6, 2011 | 3:56 pm

    Nice post Steve. What an impact pastors can have on young lives! I agree with you that boldness is a core characteristic of leaders. I wonder what the research says about it. A great follow-up to this post might be something on how to revive and maintain one's boldness over the years. It seems like it was a lot easier when I was 21.

  2. Steve Riege
    February 7, 2011 | 9:19 am

    Thanks Greg. Your comment about reviving and maintaining boldness as we get older reminds me of a line from the Smothers Brothers.

    Dick would say "Tom, what do you want to do when you grow up?"

    I use this same question with Coaching Clients who seem to think those days of Boldness are gone with age. How can a Rare Leader be a Visionary, Planner, Decisive, Driven to Achieve, or make important Decisions if they can not be Bold?

    Even though it seems it must have been easier at 21 than it is at 57, we had our issues holding back our boldness way back then too. But perhaps we felt a resiliency to failure that we should re-visit again.

    As we do with others, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and be Bold, and Lead others.

  3. […] Coincidentally, at the same time, I was participating in a Boy Scout troop sponsored by my church. During one of our meetings, the minister gave us a presentation on his interpretation of GRACE. I walked away realizing that not only was I fortunate enough to have been given many wonderful gifts by God, but how I would apply them, how I would use them, and where they would take me, was a plan that had not been written by me. It was at that moment I realized losing that audition was part of the plan that had been written for me. I needed to move on and learn from my 1st major failure in life.  I found the beginnings of my freedom to fail. […]

  4. Trish Hundhausen
    August 23, 2013 | 6:22 pm

    I love that your pastor instilled this idea, and that this was such a memorable moment for you.

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