Lessons from the Blue Highways – Episode 4 – Boldness

Adam Steele decided it was time to revisit the blue highways of his own heritage – America’s rust belt.  As was his custom, he would stop at the entrance of each small town along the road and take a picture of the sign announcing the city limits. Often the sign would have another identification of a famous person from that town. A historical market would also capture some information about the small town hero. Adam took pictures of these markers as well.

On this trip he became intrigued by the hometown heroes. To live in the moment, he would often find a quiet place to park his car and read about the life of the person the town was proud of.

In a 100 mile section of the blue highway he was on, he was amazed to read about:

  • One of the leading generals in the Civil War known for his bravery in leading his troops into battle.
  • An America gymnast who won five medals in the Olympics and became America’s darling when she scored a perfect 10 on an event even though she had been injured on an earlier event.
  • One of the founding fathers who helped to shape our financial system and foreign policy while confronting those who had a different vision for the American economic system.
  • An American diplomat who won the Nobel Prize for his plan to rebuild Europe after World War II even though many opposed his ideas.
  • America’s “quiet billionaire” who was the leader in venture capital funding that led to the nation’s high tech economy when others thought these ventures were too risky.

This trip was just 100 miles, but that hundred miles was remarkable for what it taught him. As Adam reflected on each of the biographies of these blue highway heroes, he was struck that they had one thing in common: boldness.

Boldness is a human trait that isn’t taught, nor is it inherited. It’s a mindset built on self-worth, personal integrity, determination, faith, and a can-do spirit. As Adam reflected on boldness, he thought about his company’s hiring practices. His company was able to select from what were thought to be elite universities. But were they hiring for boldness? He didn’t think so. They hired over-achievers, but they weren’t looking for those who aren’t afraid to take risks or strike off in new directions. He began to realize that he wanted a different kind of employee, one that would challenge him and disrupt when the status quo was no longer viable. He wanted to hire future leaders who weren’t afraid to win the future and become difference makers.

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“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Johann Goethe (poet, statesman)

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