Anything is Possible if You Have Enough Nerve

So goes the saying by JK Rowling.

Some time ago,

  • A colleague told me he wanted to write a book
  • A friend expressed an interest in living in a foreign country
  • An executive decided to explore a bold new business strategy

In each case I encouraged the folks to “go for it.” I knew that the path ahead would be rewarding as well as challenging.

What type of person goes out on a limb with major life decisions and subsequently enjoys the fruit of that adventure? Who are such people with nerves of steel?

In most instances they were seemingly “ordinary ” people that pulled off extraordinary results.

Certainly they did not habitually play it safe and were preoccupied with questions like “What if?” If so, they would live in a constant state of fear of venturing outside their comfort zone.

The flip side of being overly cautious in one’s decisions is found in an advertisement for the Mt Sinai Medical Center. Their philosophy states,

“But rather than going step by step, the goal is to make bold, conceptual leaps. Impatience is a virtue. Failure is an integral part of success, and no journey is as exhilarating as going out on a limb.”

So who are these risk-takers? They

  1. Are not afraid of experimenting.

Risk takers are the dabblers in life.

These innovators are the designers who will try out different styles knowing that some will not work, actors who experiment with scenes that “bomb”, or scientists who repeatedly try experiments that fail. Their philosophy is “Better to try and fail that not to try at all”. As a result they keep going with the knowledge that their efforts will eventually be successful.

When one looks at the disposition of innovators they

  1. Have a fierce resolve in the face of obstacles

A study of the biographies of great leaders reveals that many doggedly zigzag their way to success. What keeps them going is an underlying confidence and tenacious persistence in the face of naysayers and uncertainties. They believe that they have the ability, and history, to come out on top.

Such confidence is based on the memory of past accomplishments, inspired by the vision of realizing an idea, and is combined with the ability to suspend self-doubt. It can be the quiet determination of people with gentler and less bombastic dispositions.

It takes courage to try new things and to boldly adventure into new territory. The key is to face our inner fears and take the needed actions anyway.

3. Combine nerve with raw courage

The older I get the more I realize that in the pursuit of anything that matters one needs to be in it for the long haul. In the face of fierce opposition or cold indifference to our efforts sometimes the tendency is to give up. Courage is the one character quality that keeps us going in our pursuit of new goals. Courage is best defined by John F Kennedy in his book “Profiles in Courage” He writes that people of courage put their convictions “ahead of their careers”.

Having the courage of our convictions is then the heart and soul of raw nerve.


What new ideas do you want to explore?

What rewards would you miss if you held yourself back?

Where can you get the needed support and/or resources?

About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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1 Response to Anything is Possible if You Have Enough Nerve

  1. Hi Cedricj

    Thanks for the article, I’m going to refer to it in due course when I write my book.

    Just wanted to let you know the link to the article doesn’t work. No big deal as you can see it in full on the email but thought you’d like to know.



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