Frankly, boss, I don’t give a damn.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the future. Interviewing gazillions of people about what the future looks like, and what we need to get there, and what we’ll need to do once we’re there. (See Future of Work study, just released, as well as my last two books.)
One theme keeps coming up over and over: Audacity matters.
Grow a pair.
Get over yourself and your namby pamby, weakass worries and fears.
(As opposed to real worries and fears: life-threatening poverty, unsafe environments, hunger, violence, persecution, etc.)
Just… Say it.
Just… Do it.
Stop worrying about how you will be perceived and stop covering your ass. Step up (and, as needed, over your boss) or get the hell out of the way.
Break the rules or become a relic.
Be a badass.
No matter how they say it, most every disruptive hero and future-oriented person I talk to has declared that the only way to make the 21st century live up to our hopes and dreams is to…
A) Hold onto everything timeless (values like kindness, connectedness, openness, trustworthiness, etc.)
B) Hack everything else. Especially everything that’s truly stupid.
And be bold in doing so.
An amazing future for all of us rests upon:
> Knowing which few rules and values are absolutely vital and must be followed, and then breaking or bending all the rest.
> Knowing how few times lots of bosses (or their boss’s boss) really know what the hell they’re talking about, and then acting accordingly.
Too Much Grown-up “Wisdom”
When I dug into “Where does the courage to be audacious come from?”
my conversations with leaders, managers and workers grew increasingly personal. They spoke less about business, work and such. And more about how they became the person they are today.
A funny thing emerged.
It’s not courage at all.
It’s staying in touch with one’s inner child. Refusing to grow up. (AKA, losing the imagination and spontaneity and curiosity and naïve boldness we ALL had in our youth.)
The CEO who learned about fast decision-making as a 14 year-old competitive skateboarder. The youth mentor who ran away from home in Nigeria as the only way to go to college. The social media rock star who blew off college in France and went to China to discover himself. The leadership development executive who stood up to bullies in junior high school, paid the price, and continues to stand up to bullies to this day. The global vice president who realized in her teens that the only way to create a better future was to dream big, really big — and to blow past all who cling to the status quo.
The future of work, of leadership, of innovation — of most everything — revolves around your ability to recall and retain your youthful audacity.
Have You Retained
Your Youth’s Audacity?
For my first sixteen years on earth, mine usually got me into trouble — like when troopers caught my friends and me skinny dipping in a state park, and held us buck-naked until our parents arrived to pick us up.
But by my late teens, I had figured out how to channel that audaciousness in very creative ways.
Mid 70s: I was watching Gone With the Wind in this amazing theater (The Stanley Theater) in Utica, New York. During intermission, I was talking with one of the staffers about the huge posters they had for the film. “Hey, can I have them when you’re done screening the film,” I asked. “Sure.” …Cool! Three massive GWTW posters. …That was easy!
That got me thinking: Would the major studios be as generous?
My next semester break I went to the offices of every major movie studio in New York City. “I’m doing a project for my college design class” …(Lie, lie, lie)… “Do you have copies of posters you could give me?” By the time my two trips into the city were done, I had a few dozen posters from mid-70s films. Young Frankenstein. American Graffiti. Many more. I almost scored a Bob Peak original painting — father of the modern movie poster — for Rollerball, but security made me put it back. Darn it.
Quite a collection! I still have these amazing posters, some of which are now collector’s items, framed and proudly displayed.
The point: No, it’s not about posters…
(Nor do I condone the fibs that young Bill did to get those posters!)
It’s that… You have, in your youth, some experience that’s a lot or a little like the one above. Where you ignored what you should or shouldn’t do and you created your own adventure, your own path.
You have that youthful audacity inside
of you! …Still!
You can figure out creative ways to get things done that are definitely NOT the way it’s always been done or are “supposed” to be done.
You can be innovative, creative and audacious in ways that Mature You
is currently suppressing.
We all can.
It’s that: That audacity matters.
Your youthful audacity is the building block for every tomorrow that follows tomorrow.
Be audacious today.
Remember who you were many yesterdays ago.
And bring back your inner child,
your precocious self.
BOSS: If you won’t follow my rules, where shall I go, what shall I do?
YOU: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
— Bill Jensen loves movies. Especially Star Trek. Add in The Next Generation TV series and all you ever need to know, all of life’s tough choices, values and more, is there — in the Gospel of Picard.
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