For the past twelve months, I’ve signed my travel blog, Go Boldly! It’s easy to be Bold on the road, with new faces and places every day. Language, food, customs - everything is different, everything an adventure. While it took a leap of faith to leave home, it has taken much less confidence to keep moving. There’s a momentum that drives you, when you know you’re going in the right direction.
Coming home, on the other hand requires as much courage as leaving. As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, wrote, ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.’ Or woman. Home has moved on, just as I have. How do we make room for other’s changes, when it’s hard to recognise our own?
Boldness is also much on my mind, as I finish writing a book of stories of nine bold women met on my travels. Everyday people who have made decisions about what matters most to them, then did it. No permission needed, no great hullabaloo, just got on with it. And now they are channelling Henry David Thoreau, and advancing confidently in the direction of their dreams, living the life which they imagined, and meeting with a success unexpected in common hours’.
So what is this Bold business all about? And why does it matter?
Sometimes the easiest way to describe what something is, is by saying what it isn't.
There are plenty of speakers, who proclaim their opinions, sometimes well-founded and sometimes not. They are loud, but not Bold.
There are adventurers, who explore the world in feats that astonish us. They are daring, but not Bold.
There are, however, those who stand with others who need their courage and support, and say ‘I’m with you’. They are Bold.
Those who pick themselves up off the floor after failure or loss, and say, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. They are Bold.
The ones who listen to their dreams and hopes and say, ‘it’s never too late’. They too are Bold.
This is the kind of Boldness that makes growing past 50 something to look forward to. With the bonus of great stories, fulfilment and a life to be proud of, it is the antidote to regrets and disappointment. Boldness is your best hope for the future.
There are four essential components of a Bold Life.
Boldness is Considered
Thinking for yourself is a conscious act of defiance, in a noisy world where others are eager to tell us how we should live. Challenging your assumptions and expectations about the world is like cracking open the comfortable, protective shell you live. It’s the only way to make change.
When you make a consistent practice of thinking well, you begin to trust that maybe you do know what’s best for yourself after all. And that opens the door to action.
When do you think best? What have been your best decisions? How did you make them?
Boldness is Compelling
Poet, Mary Oliver, asked ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ Unless you think you’ll be coming back for another round, this is it. So in order to make it all worthwhile, your Boldness must be what’s in your picture.
If you don’t know yet what’s in the frame, keep thinking, daydreaming and imagining. Make it bigger than you currently think is possible, and you’ll find the way.
Where do you keep your dreams? Shine the torch there. What have you always wanted to do? What’s the first step?
Boldness is Courageous
You know about falling down and getting back up, that’s the persistence it takes to achieve anything worthwhile. Boldness is also contagious. When you take a step towards something you really want, others start to wonder what they might do. Start a movement! You’ll inspire each other to get where you’re going, and along the way new plans will arise that you never thought about.
Who will back you? Who will you tell? How will your plans encourage others to be Bold?
Boldness is Compassionate
There are always plenty of roadblocks on the way to a fulfilling life. In the second half of our years, those judging voices seem to shout even louder. ‘Who are you to want to change?’ ‘Who are you to follow your dreams?’
Actually, who are you not to?
A Bold Life asks you to be kind - to yourself, first of all. After all, if you’re not compassionate to yourself, then you won’t be so to others.
What are the voices you need to ignore or silence? How do you keep faith with yourself?
There is steel under Boldness, it takes strength to live a life you’re proud of.