Bravery is a skill you can learn. At one point in my career, I was tasked – as a certified and experienced change practitioner – to drive cultural change within a global senior leadership team. This was a unique and unexpected opportunity to make a huge difference. Not just for me and my career but for the masses of people who hadn’t ever seen someone like themselves in positions of global, corporate power.
For nearly a year, it was exactly the opportunity for myself and the world that I was told it could be. But then … as the culture shift began to show results so significant that people in power needed to change their own behaviour and embrace innovation, cultural stretch, and global inclusion … everything fell apart.
The powerful folks just refused to grow. Not directly, of course. Instead, budget was reduced, critical experts were reassigned, and senior leaders just stopped showing up, making decisions, or following through. With no consequences.
Looking back I see now how I stepped away from my strength as a Socialised Maverick  and into being an Extreme Maverick : allowing – no encouraging! – my emotions to overtake my skill, my expertise, and my heart to somehow, in some fashion, get IT done. At the time I just knew I was pissed off. Until I wasn’t, instead I was just intimidated, silenced, stewing, and disengaged.
Sound familiar? I bet it does.
I bet you, Socialised Maverick, have moved through these forms of maverick expressions many times throughout your career. So how did I shift back into Socialised Maverick? How can you?
One word: bravery.
Bravery is a skill of clarity, action, and accountability. It is the skill that turns every dream into reality and turns each failure into growth, if not success. The first step to bravery is clarity. Clarity of what is and clarity of what can be. In my case, clarity was the shock of being told my job was ‘being eliminated’ because the efforts I was responsible for were ‘no longer strategically relevant.’
Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have seen it earlier, but I didn’t. Instead it was after that shock that I saw what was in front of me and activated my three-part framework for building the skill of bravery.
1. Clarity: I got clear on what I wanted. I set a specific, clear, unique goal for my next step.
2. Learn-Act Circle: With clarity, I was able to step into the hard work of making my goal a reality.
3. Ownership: I owned my goal by rejecting my silence, stopping stewing, and reengaging my skills, expertise, and vision.
I have a lot of practice with this framework – and I had a lot of people supporting me. So within four weeks I had set a goal, taken loads of action, shifted by attitude from victim to boss, and accepted an offer for an incredible full-time position supporting cultural shift in Mergers and Acquisitions.
How can you build your own bravery?
I mention it above and it cannot be repeated enough: bravery is a skill. We are all born with it – check out those toddlers learning to toddle for proof. But most of us move away from bravery, accept the pressure of ‘fitting in,’ starting to believe that bravery is something soldiers and heroes in action films do, and misplace pieces of ourselves in the process.
The entire time we can feel it: short-term gain for long-term loss.
And, at some point, we decide to focus on long-term gains and … whether we know it at the time or not … we turn to the skill of bravery and how to build it. Not the bravery of blowing up buildings or facing down terrorists … the bravery of trying something new, and screwing it up. Asking the awkward question at the wrong time, or of the wrong person. Trying something new and doing it the most ineffective way possible.
And then trying again.
And again. And again. And again.
Everyone you know that is living the life they want, with the career of their dreams … or on their way there … are consistently building their brave. And you can too.
In fact, dear maverick, I am confident you already are. Give yourself a gift: every day for the next week, write down one way you built your bravery on that day.
Bravery can be your front, side, and back door to the career and life of your dreams. Deepen the skill, dive into the form of maverick you wish to become, and build the career, and life, of your biggest dreams.
See ya there!
  Germain, J. (2017): “The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders”, PublishNation