What is the opposite of courage?

When Paul McCartney was in school, he was told he should give up music and get a ‘safe job’ in Liverpool’s then-thriving shipping or manufacturing sectors, just like everyone else. Thank god he didn’t follow that advice! The rest, of course, is history: he launched himself to stardom in the world’s most iconic band.

It would have taken courage to do that – to challenge the status quo. So what is the opposite of courage? It’s not cowardice, as we might assume, but conformity. Conformity is the death warrant for every creative idea, every potential genius, and every iconoclast in the making.

Sadly last week the world mourned the loss of David Bowie, an extraordinarily courageous and creative performer who defied convention at every turn. Bowie wasn’t all mere drama and theatrics, but also used his music for profound social commentary. You might be thinking, ‘Ha! Examples of two artists. What kind of life raft is this supposed to be, to keep my organisation floating above an ocean of conformity?’

Well, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz embodies bucking business convention. He is brave enough to champion causes treated as taboo by most corporate CEOs, such as gun control and gay marriage. Yet far from spelling corporate suicide, this leadership has boosted Starbucks’ bottom line.

So this year, what are your opportunities to deny conformity and mediocrity?

What are you going to do to channel your inner Bowie or Schultz?

Do share! I love hearing from you.

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