January 17, 2018

Begin and experience the power of boldness

The impetus for this blog post comes from a quote that has hung on my office wall for 25 years.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”– Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe:

What Goethe is telling us is that whatever it may be that we desire, wish for, or dream to have real in our lives, we should go for it! There is so much in life that we all want to make happen and so few people seem to really reach for their dreams.

Why is this? I think it is because the accomplishment of the dream seems to be a far off thing, and many times it is. That can be discouraging when we want it now. Perhaps we do not see the steps that we need to take to get from here to there. That’s OK. There is only one step you really need to be concerned with… the first one!

Once you take that step, it is amazing how quickly the next one becomes apparent. And then the next, and so forth, until we find ourselves not just taking steps, but sprinting towards our dream.

“But Dave, the moment is not perfect right now, maybe I should wait.”

Lots of people wait a lifetime to take that first step, and then they never do. There are no perfect moments, just get started. Try something. Be bold! What is the worst thing that could happen to you? A little embarrassment? A slight set-back on the way to your dream? Hey, I’ll take all of the setbacks that come along. Because it means that I am doing something! That’s the power of boldness.

My career as a speaker happened because I was willing to begin. My monthly newsletter happened 50 editions ago because I began. I had put a spot on my website where someone could sign up for the newsletter. It was on my website for a year and a half and nothing happened, so I didn’t write the newsletter. Then, one day, it happened. Someone subscribed!

What was I going to do? I didn’t want to do a newsletter for just one person, but now I was committed. So, I sent the first edition to everyone in my email address book, along with my actual subscriber, 700 in all. I apologized in advance for the spam and promised to unsubscribe anyone who did not want to be on the list. Then, I waited.

The next day, I had about 50 emails regarding my newsletter. “Well”, I thought, “50 unsubscribes out of 700 isn’t bad.” Then I started opening the emails. Most of them weren’t unsubscribes at all, but emails congratulating me on the newsletter and messages telling me how much they loved receiving it! How cool! There were 47 “attaboys” and only three unsubscribes!

And it has been a real joy to write ever since. My newsletter list is now over 2,200 people strong, it has gotten me speaking engagements, helped me reconnect with friends and colleagues, and given me material for a new book. All because I took a chance and was willing to begin.

How does this apply for college students? In every possible way. You are in that beginning point during your collegiate years. This may be the foundational time for you to go after the dreams that you have. Just start. Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg was a college sophomore when he created the biggest social media site ever. And it was only intended to be a vehicle for Harvard students! Then it expanded, but was still only available if you had an “edu” email address. And now? Wow! Little steps can lead to big things. The scale is only limited by the size of your dream.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to begin!

“We can change the world…
By serving…
One life at a time.”

Dave Kelly
America’s Student Leadership Trainer (sm)
Creator and Facilitator of Building Leaders Through Service®

About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

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  1. Marja Lee Freeman - The Employment Lady says:


    Great article. I love the part about taking the first step because it’s usually the hardest. An excuse is a reason not to try, Looking forward to attending another one of your sessions, Dave. Great job!

  2. Dave,
    This is great advice for college students and for those of us who need a reminder! Yes, indeed, boldness is infectuous – in a great way:)

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