A Call to Courage

Creativity and courage go hand-in-hand.

In fact, everything worthwhile in life requires the courage to be vulnerable. So, let’s delve into why truly innovative work needs courageous people behind it.

Bravery versus courage

There’s a big difference between bravery and courage. To be brave is to confront the painful, difficult and dangerous — without fear. To be courageous is to confront the painful, difficult and dangerous — while acknowledging and feeling fear.

Bravery charges into enemy fire, just because. Courage charges into enemy fire, understanding there’s a probable chance of getting shot, because the reasons for charging are very good.

Bravery is a quality. Courage is a choice.

Courage is driven by belief in a cause; that something is worth standing up and fighting for, despite a lot of very good reasons not to. With its root in the French word for heart, coeur, courage is bravery with brains.

Confronting moments

Creativity may be the world-changing currency of the future, but there can be no creativity without courage.

To be creative, you must be vulnerable. But putting your best strategy, ideas, words or designs in front of others can be confronting.

In an agency setting, when you reveal an idea to a client, there’s often silence in the room. (No doubt Nike’s trademark swoosh was initially greeted with a non-committal: “Hmm, it’s kind of simple.”) It takes a moment for people to get their heads around what they’re seeing, and it’s human nature to not say anything before the sentiment in the room is obvious.

Every creative reveal is an act of vulnerability — whether it takes place in a presentation, on stage, in a composition, online, or in a small room. You’re actively saying: This is my best work. Please judge it.

Every innovation, every original idea, every discovery of a new, smarter way to do things, takes courage and vulnerability.

A simple truth

Bestselling author and University of Houston researcher, Dr Brené Brown, is something of an academic rock star following a 2010 TED talk that is still in the top five most-viewed in the world, and a highly successful 2019 Netflix special, The Call to Courage.

Brown’s 20 years of research reveal a simple truth: choosing courage over comfort matters.

“You measure courage by how vulnerable you are,” says Brown. You can live a wholehearted personal and professional life through vulnerability, by having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.

Despite being deeply aware that managing fast growth is one of the greatest challenges to face a business, The Being Group has adopted a courageous approach by more than doubling staff and revenue in the last 18 months, and consolidating its presence in London with a full-time team in its new Covent Garden offices.

Don’t be afraid to try

“Our recent growth, and the larger team in London, is certainly not without risk,” says The Being Group’s CEO, Siebert Neethling. “We’re controlling all the controllables we can, but in the end, we’re fighting for our belief that there’s benefit for our clients and people in our one team, two time zones approach. I think the only thing worse than failing is not trying at all.”

A creatively courageous agency requires equally courageous clients. Growing a relationship built on trust is the key to success. Genuinely unique, creative and effective work involves time, money and risk. Sure, there’s always an easier way that’s not as challenging, but that’s the route to Mediocrity Island in the Sea of Sameness.

People working in a courageous business that is willing to take risks feel like they’re somewhere exciting, interesting and dynamic — a company bold enough in its purpose to stay true to itself. That’s an attractive environment for the best and brightest.

Plus, having courage is self-perpetuating. One small success from an act of courage creates the momentum for the next, and then the next, and then the next.

“Vulnerability is hard and scary, and it feels dangerous,” Dr Brené Brown told Forbes. “But it’s not as hard or scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask: What if I’d turned up? Show up, be seen and answer the call to courage.”


This wouldn’t be an inspirational blog on creativity without a quote from a famous, long-dead artist in an unrelated field to support the thesis. So, it was Henri Matisse who said: “Another word for creativity is courage.”

Want to try something courageously creative? Reach out here to start something extraordinary.

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