Jean Case posits that people everywhere have ideas of how to make a better world. What they lack is the belief that they can be the one to do it. In Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthrough and Purpose, she tells stories of everyday people who have big ideas, and overcome fear and failure to see them through.

Jean Case is the Chairperson of the National Geographic Society and CEO of the Case Foundation, whose mission is to “Invest in people and ideas that can change the world”. The stated hope of the book is to inspire readers to take bold action and have a bigger impact. She outlines five principles toward that end.

  1. Make a big bet. To think big, you must start small. When you are making a big bet, focus on your true north- what matters to you and what change you need to make. And start where you are. Now. 
  2. Be bold, take risks– Have the courage to try new, unproven things and the rigor to continue experimenting. When we think about risk, we need to think about R&D, trial and error. A most profound question is, “what is the downside of doing nothing? “
  3. Make failure matter“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”-RFK  When we fail forward, we pave the way for others and provides necessary lessons about what didn’t work. Fail fast, fail forward, make it matter, and then go make a difference
  4. Reach beyond your bubble– Don’t be afraid to hear points of view that make you uncomfortable. We all benefit from building diverse teams that bring an array of backgrounds and perspectives.
  5. Let urgency conquer fear– Don’t overthink it, don’t get caught up in the fear of what could go wrong—allow the need to act to outweigh doubts. “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do.” Leonardo da Vinci

In challenging the reader to start right where we are, she asks the following questions:

  • How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
  • Will inertia be your guide or will you follow your passions?
  • Will you follow dogma or will you be original?
  • Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
  • When it’s tough, will you give up or will you be relentless?

The time is now for all of us to decide whether we will hold back or plunge into lives of meaning. Big, audacious ideas become a reality by taking a thousand small steps. What often seems impossible at the start becomes more plausible with each new action taken toward the goal. If there is something calling to you that is so important that it can become an urgent call to act, do it now .There is no time like the present. 

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