Boldness? What’s That?

Napoleon said “L’audace! L’uadace! Toujours l’audace!”(Audacity! Audacity! Always audacity!”) He may have borrowed the phrase from the revolutionary Danton who said in a speech  “Il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace! (We need audacity! Audacity again! Always audacity!).  It may have seemed like a good idea to them. But what about now?

These days, one does not bump into a lot of “bold” people. Think about it. Who do you know would qualify as “bold”?  Just what is “bold”?

A bold move is a move that takes one fearlessly into the unknown. The result might be brilliant, and there should be at least some reason to believe that it will. But there is also risk that things won’t work out. In other words “bold” people are willing to make tough decisions to achieve a brilliant result, even if the risks are big. Even if the decision might lead to disaster.

This was what Winston Churchill did during the First World War. He saw that the military situation on the western front was stalemate with huge casulaties. He backed the bold plan to open up a new front that would weaken the German lines in the west. The plan? Invade Turkey. The result? The Gallipoli disaster. That disaster ruined Churchill politically and he went into political exile, not to return for over a decade.

That is the dark side of boldness. And there is a dark side. But bold decisions don’t always result in disaster.

Churchill returned to power as the last bold hope to stand up to Hitler in Europe. And boldly he made it public that Britain would never surrender. Many people thought it was crazy at the time as Britain had no hope of defeating Germany alone at that time. It was a bold move that in the end, paid off. The tide eventually turned and Hitler was defeated.

Back in 1993, Estonia’s decision to ditch the ruble and launch its own currency was bold. It decimated trade with Russia at a time when Estonian factories were only geared to sell into Russia. But the re-orientation led to Estonia’s embrace of Europe.

Can you think of other bold decisions that have paid off? Interesting question.

Faceboook’s decision to pay  $19 billion for “What’s App” is bold. Will it work out? BI thinks it just might.

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