“Audacity, Audacity, Always Audacity!”
— Frederick the Great
Throughout my years in the trenches of innovation and business development, I have found that there are a few key attributes that enable people to be successful while leading new initiatives. While the general principle of my book is Relationship Momentum, and it is expressed by a formula:
Relationship Momentum is (Brand, Value, and Ambassador Equity)
Multiplied by (Strategic Velocity)
…. in the beginning of the book I talked about creating movement in a consistent direction and combining it with a measure of audacity. The trouble with high audacity is that it often leads to high presumption. Boldly thinking that we can do all things sometimes leads us to blindly charge ahead, without thinking at all. There must be an element of pause in the passion.
One of my former mentors used to talk about “meek audacity.” At first is seemed like an oxymoron. Moses, who led the entire nation of Israel out of bondage from the Egyptian Pharaohs, was said to be, “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). The great leader-deliverer, the meekest man on earth… is that another oxymoron? Not really. It is rather a misunderstanding of the meaning of meekness.
I like to think of meekness as audacity under control, or bridled audacity. In the days before the mechanization of warfare, horses that were trained for war were a powerful and terrifying force on the battlefield. They were commonly referred to as Meek Horses. Only those with a certain temperament could be trained as such horses. They had to ferocious to be the point of trampling the enemy combatants under foot, yet calm, submissive to their master, and under control in the midst of deafening canon fire. When I think of a Meek Horse, I think of this passage in Job, “He paws fiercely rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.” We should aim to have this kind of discipline and fierceness in our endeavors.
Frederick the Great
Napoleon considered Frederick William II of Prussia to be the greatest military genius in history. Frederick was known as a master tactician on the battlefield, as well as for his bravery. Because he insisted on staying close to the front line, Frederick is said to have had six horses shot out from under him. He was perhaps best known for his valiant stand against a coalition of Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden in the 1760’s. Frederick, who came to be known as Frederick the Great, was once quoted as saying, “L’audace, L’audace, Tejours, L’audace!” Translation: “Audacity, Audacity, Always Audacity!”
Audacity is exactly what one needs when setting off on a journey fraught with danger and turmoil — perhaps not physical danger, but indeed the danger of failure, embarrassment, opposition, and great loss. Notwithstanding the danger, many of us can hardly restrain ourselves from launching into that great new product, project, or purpose. Visionaries are not easily managed or restrained. Accountability and strategy are what restrains this unbridled enthusiasm. Accountability is usually (but not always) to a person. Strategic accountability is usually to a predetermined plan that limits the extent to which we wander off track. One of those key ingredients I mentioned at the beginning will come in very handy. What we need is some of that “bridled audacity.”
How Do We Get There?
The only thing you can do today is to commit to making Relationship Momentum your focus. Elect your target and then find your picture of success. Take inventory and continue on the path by setting specific goals and attack them with bridled audacity.
As driven people, we have a desire to make progress on a daily basis. I want to encourage you to begin somewhere, anywhere. Combine your bridled audacity with strategy and accountability, then watch your Initiatives multiply before your eyes.