Fortune Favors the Bold

I read in an article in National Geographic that at age 12, Steve Jobs “cold-called Bill Hewlett (CEO of Hewlett Packard) to ask if he had any extra parts for a frequency counter Jobs wanted to build. Hewlett offered him a summer job.” There’s an old proverb, Fortune favors the bold, and apparently Fortune doesn’t care if you are “only a child.” Think of Malala, think of Helen Keller, think of Greta Thunberg.

I’ve certainly acted boldly several times in my career (including cold-calling a few high-profile people myself). Sometimes it comes easily. Other times, I have to screw up my courage. Sometimes, I go into a situation fully intending to be bold, and am only moderately so. There have been many times I should have done more or asked for more. And then I kick myself for not being more daring, but hey, that’s life.

And now that I’m moving in a new direction with my writing and business, I’m seeing the need to be bold once again. I confess, it’s not as easy as it was when I was younger and had “nothing to lose.” You know how teenagers often think they’re invincible when they engage in risky behavior? I could use a little of that bravado now.

But there are plenty of things that are not as easy as they used to be (like reading small print or lifting heavy objects or remembering the name of that person I met five minutes ago). That doesn’t mean I should just stop trying. While it may have sometimes been easier to be courageous when I was younger, that was partly because I didn’t have the wisdom or experience to know that failure was a possibility. But that same wisdom and experience that now cause me to hesitate are also likely to help me succeed. It’s a paradox, right?

Young or old, untested or well-practiced, risk will always present itself. And it’s okay to sometimes let it pass you by. But if that risk is tempting you even a little, if you are feeling that tingle of excitement that comes right before you jump, remember these words by Voltaire, “They only live who dare.”

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