What’s the Boldest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

Here's something I believe with all my heart: the most profound personal growth is a result of your boldest actions.

This has been hammered home to me through my training and work as a coach, but mostly through personal experience. Any time I have taken a bold action, I have turned a corner in my life and discovered an entirely new vista.

Most of us fear bold action.

We are creatures of habit, and we crave the comfort and security of the known world. Over time, we develop perceptions and beliefs that define us — or trap us. I have spent a lot of my life in fear. I hate writing that, but it's true. I feared doing the wrong thing, making other people mad, looking stupid, disappointing people, doing something dangerous, getting in trouble, being alone.

No question about it, these fears held me back in areas of my life. From an outsider's perspective, I've had a pretty good life, and I'm certainly not complaining. But I know that I could have been living an extraordinary life. I intend to do so for the rest of my life.

Do you see yourself in any of this? Would you like to live an extraordinary life?

Think about the fears you have had in your life and what you might have done if those fears had been lifted off of you. Perhaps you are thinking fear is not your poison. Maybe it's been inertia or bad luck.Β  There are legitimate bad circumstances that can limit us, but I think if we dig deep, we discover that inertia and bad luck are just fear in disguise. We fear success or failure or any of the fears I listed above, so we sabotage ourselves.

If fear disappeared what bold actions would you take in your life today?

Here's how I would define bold actions:

  • Actively looking beyond your current beliefs and perceptions. Considering new ideas that feel strange and trying them out for size.
  • Trying a new activity or hobby or endeavor even though you think you might not succeed at it or do it well. Having as much fun learning as you do accomplishing.
  • Doing something that feels right and good for you in spite of other people telling you that you shouldn't do it.
  • Doing the right thing when the wrong thing would be easier or more profitable in some way.
  • Making a huge shift in lifestyle to support your evolving beliefs and values.
  • Going after a goal or dream with all of your heart and effort even though you know that failure is a possibility.
  • Viewing failure as a natural part of bold action and growth and embracing it.
  • Making a big move or change in your life or career that is scary, but doing it anyway because you accept that change is the only way to move forward.
  • Being real, authentic, open, vulnerable, and accepting of yourself. Understanding that perfection is in being human. Falling down, getting up, trying again, laughing at yourself and forgiving yourself.
  • Loving someone without conditions or expectations.
  • Letting go of people, things or habits that are pulling you down or holding your back even though it's uncomfortable to do so.
  • Asking for what you want and believing that you deserve it. Accepting that no might be the answer.

Fear is a very strange emotion. It's one that should be applied to an immediate threat or danger — ie: a wild animal about to eat you. But most of our fears are about future unknowns. We are afraid of thoughts we are having about circumstances that are not real and may never be real.

Here's my cure for fear: take action. Once you take action, almost always you discover that the thing you feared is not so frightening.

Here's my other cure for fear: change your thoughts. Break down and analyze what you fear and change your thoughts about it. Feeling follows thought.

Here are some bold and fearless actions that I and some of my friends have taken that have been life-altering and extraordinary:

1. I moved to New York City. This is the boldest thing I've ever done. I was 25, my mom had just died, and I was offered a big PR job in New York. I was a scared, young Southern girl with lots of pastel suits and big hair during the 80's. But I moved anyway, and it changed my life. My career took off, I became self-sufficient and independent, and I met my future husband there.

2. My best friend moved with me without a job. I asked my friend Elizabeth to be my roommate in New York, and she said yes without blinking. This was probably more stupid than fearless, but the fear kicked in once she arrived in the City! She quit her job in Atlanta, left her circle of friends and family and moved without a job lined up. She pounded the pavement in New York until she found a great job working for a big magazine as an editor. Really bold.

3. My friend Larry gave up a huge job and started a non-profit. Larry worked for a big marketing agency making lots of money. He had a dream to start a spiritual non-profit helping people align their lives and careers with their spiritual goals. In spite of his wife flipping out (she now works with him), they agreed to sell their big home, he quit his job, and now they are happier than they have ever been as the founders of Cloudwalk.

4. Jeni has four kids and started a business. She also created a non-profit called Pebbletossers, inviting kids to volunteer in various ways that match their abilities and interests. She created an amazing web site, found funding and support, and is helping so many families and organizations — all while raising four of the sweetest, most charming children I've ever met.

5. Betty started a business, it tanked, and she's starting over. My friend Betty left a big corporate job to start a business that she really believed in. In spite of her dedication, planning and hard work, the business failed and she had a boat load of debt. She says she'd do it over because she learned so much. She has almost paid off the debt and is looking for the next path of learning. She only spent about ten minutes pouting. She's also about to marry the man of her dreams because she responded to a kooky message from his kids on Match.com even though it was way out-of-character for her.

6. Michelle has had cancer twice but seizes life. My friend Michelle has had Hodgkin'sΒ  disease and breast cancer and has survived both fearlessly. In spite of her health challenges, she has a big job as a public relations executive and is the breadwinner of her family. She and her husband have raised a beautiful daughter. She is an amazing friend with one of the most giving spirits of anyone I know. Cancer has not stopped her or held her back even though anyone would have understood if it had. She lives boldly every day.

Here is my wish for you. Every day you will take bold action. You will work to change your mind about fear, and you will act in spite of fear. If you have a belief, challenge it. It you have an idea, pursue it. If you have a dream, follow it. Don't wait. Timing is flying by you. Today is the day for extraordinary living!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 16 comments
  • Leah McClellan

    Hi,

    I read your article on Write to Done and came over here to read as well. Good stuff here, and I like this article especially and thought I would comment quickly because if I don’t do it right now, I know I won’t get to it tomorrow or the next day… πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I agree that bold action allows us to discover new things and learn and grow in ways we wouldn’t otherwise. I don’t think of myself as bold because I just am the way I am, but I think I’ve done a lot of bold stuff by most standards.

    Probably the best example is when I decided, awhile back, that the only way to shake the inertia or sort of depression I was in was to do a sort of travel cure. Long story short, I threw a tent and backpack on my back (among other things) and traveled around Europe (I’m in the US) by myself for three months (i wasn’t working at the time and I was fortunate that I could do that). It wasn’t a totally strange place to me, and I’d been to France by myself before and some other countries, but I had never done anything quite like that. No plans, no destination, just a railpass and a book that listed camping sites. Did it again the following summer for 6 weeks and went to a place I was afraid of on the previous trip because of political unrest at the time (Corsica). Now that felt very bold for me because I was conquering fear and I knew it. It was great. I learned a lot about myself on both trips, mostly things like intent and whatever energy I’m putting out is what I attract and so on. I knew about that sort of thing, but more on an intellectual level, and on that trip I had nothing else but my intent or attitude. I mean, everything on that trip–whether I enjoyed it or not or felt at ease and peaceful or miserable and whatever–was all up to me. So it was a big lesson on awareness and choices and being centered and choosing my reactions to situations of many kinds.

    OK back I go to mowing the lawn lol (oh yeah, buying this little fixer-upper house by myself was another bold move a couple years ago! I was scared πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the inspiration and opportunity to think on this, and I’m sure I’ll be back.

    Leah

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Leah,
    Wow! I would say you have done several bold things. I bet your Europe trips feel like some of the most exciting, extraordinary times of your life. You didn’t sink into your inertia — you took control of your life. Congratulations!

    We all have our daily lawns to mow. That’s just part of life, right? But if lawn mowing (metaphorically speaking) is all we do, then we aren’t moving forward. Between lawns, I hope you keep traveling!

    Best,
    Barrie

    Reply
  • Leah McClellan

    Thanks Barrie,

    Yes, I took control. I also had to figure some stuff out that was troubling me (marriage difficulties primarily) and although I didn’t come back with the secret to world peace, it was a huge start to knowing what I had to do.

    Yes, lots of stuff in between the lawn mowing lol My current bold move is happening right here in my office at my computer (I’m finally working on my writing that I’ve put off for a long time) and that is definitely a sort of traveling. Very handy when you have a lawn to mow lol πŸ™‚

    Have a great day and see you again,

    Leah

    Reply
  • Kristen Sloan

    Similar to Leah, I read your entry on Write to Done and then followed the link to your blog. I’ve enjoyed it greatly so far. I completely agree that we let fear rule our lives. We become complacent and scared of change, afraid to take risks. However, I’ve found in my life, the real growth comes when you take risks, whether you fail or succeed.

    The boldest thing I have done so far in my life is moving 500 miles away from home, family and friends post college. I moved not knowing anyone, but knew I needed a big change. Similarly, I am moving back “home” or close to the family this summer. This may not seem like a bold move, except that I am planning to move with or without job and trusting my instincts. Sometimes you just need to move and understand eventually everything will work out!

    Thanks for your insights! Kristen

    Reply
  • Helen

    I remember those suits and hair dos – they will come back round! I am learning to walk through my fear more and more, it feels like I am alive in the world :-). Yet another great blog – thanks.

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Thank you Helen. Congratulations! I am thrilled that you are feeling alive. That’s wonderful. Thank you for following my blog.

    Barrie

    Reply
  • Linda Gabriel

    Hi Barrie,

    I’ve done a couple of bold things in my life and like the other comments mine involved moving and travel. In 1990 my (then) husband and I moved to Kona, Hawaii with me 7 months pregnant and a 2 year-old. Looking back I am amazed at how brave that was since we didn’t know anyone there. But I had a strong feeling that we were meant to live in Hawaii. I guess I was right because I lived there 20 years until I had another strong feeling that it was time to hit the road. I and my (then) sweetheart went on holoholo (walkabout) around N. America, first in a truck and tent and, once the weather got colder, in a small Toyota Dolphin RV. Those were some of the happiest AND most challenging days of my life.

    When we were on the road in the RV we met a lot of folks who would let us know how much they envied what we were doing. “I wish I could do what you are doing!” they would say. “You can!” we answered, “Just do it.” “Nah, someone has to pay the rent,” was the usual response. Turns out that was our secret – we gave up our home base so we didn’t have to keep up expenses. As a result I learned to make my home wherever I happened to be in the moment. It wasn’t always easy but it was a great lesson in surrender and being willing to be pleasantly surprised.

    I used to be so much more fearful and controlling but the road seems to gently lift those away. I felt like a different person by the end of those years on the move. And when it was time to settle down again, I really appreciated having a place to grow some roots.

    But lately I’m getting the travel bug again. Road trip anyone? πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Linda,

    What an amazing and inspirational story. Yes, both moves were very bold! But aren’t you glad you did them? You conquered your fear and had some amazing experiences that you will remember forever and that changed you for the better. You go girl!

    Yes, I’m up for a road trip. Where should we go???

    Reply
  • What’s the Boldest Thing You’ve Done? at A Few Good Thoughts

    […] Davenport at LiveBoldAndBloom.com posed a question to her readers, “What’s the boldest thing you’ve done?” […]

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  • Madeleine Kolb

    Barrie, I once heard a great speech called “Fear is a Compass, Pointing You in the Direction You Must Go,” and there’s a lot to that as your post and the comments show. My recent bold action was to move from Seattle a few months ago to southern Maryland with my BF when he got a job here. I don’t have a job and don’t know anyone here. Actually, I didn’t fear the change, but moving was a huge hassle, and I’m dedicating a lot of time and energy into making this a good experience.

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Madeleine,

    That is a bold move! It takes a lot of time to get used to a new place and readjust your psyche to a completely different life. You will get there in time. Thank you for your kind comments.

    Best,
    Barrie

    Reply
  • Jenny Hones

    Hi Barrie,
    Reading this article and everyone’s comments made me realize that I do want to be bold once again. I was very bold in my youth and have lived and traveled extensively. However, with children came responsibility. Now that one has left the nest and another is ready to leave, means we will only have one more at home. It has given me new life to see that the little fire in me has not really died, and I can go out once more and be bold. Thanks for this article, it was very timely!
    Jenny

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Hi Jenny,
    I am in the same life stage as you. Yes, it is time to be bold again. I’d love to know who you rekindle that little fire. When you decide, please visit back and let me know!

    Best,
    Barrie

    Reply
  • Chrissie Bettencourt

    Great article! And I agree completely, boldness changed my life. Bold decisions I took:
    1) quit a “secure” government job
    2) sold most of my belongings and moved to the other end of the globe: Argentina
    3) Started a new life not knowing a soul, no idea what I wanted to do with my life but took the time to reconnect with myself and develop my more creative side
    4) Started a new career in chocolate and wine
    5) changed my lifestyle to accumulating less, experiencing more and learning to live a sustainable and off the grid lifestyle
    And I believe the biggest bold action, blind faith that all would be well πŸ™‚

    Saludos,
    Chrissie

    Reply
  • Barrie Davenport

    Wow Chrissie, that is totally amazing! What an inspiring story. You have seized life by the horns and I bet you will reflect on your life with very few regrets! Congratulations on your boldness.
    Peace,
    Barrie

    Reply
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