Pshaw, you say. That girl doesn’t need courage, she can sing. She can move. But Beyoncé wasn’t always Beyoncé. She used to have two names, just like you and me. Courage is what allowed her to push through the crowd of less remarkable artists, to leap over the hurdles the industry and bias and life put in her way. Courage is what made her the businesswoman, pop deity, and icon she is today. Here are four things that Beyoncé can teach us about courageous leadership:
1. There’s a Sasha Fierce in Every Woman
The cold hard fact is strong women experience resistance in most facets of our lives. For Beyoncé, creating an alter ego gave her the perfect way to experiment with her image — and her style — without being hurt by it. Sasha is fearless, ruthless … untouchable. By her own admission, the artist created Ms. Fierce to “protect herself.” Imagine if you had that kind of protection from the judgment of others. How would your everyday decisions at work be different if you showed up as your own “Sasha Fierce”?
2. There’s a Destiny’s Child in There, Too
Research shows over and over again that believing you’re destined for greatness, putting it in writing, and giving it a name multiplies your chances of succeeding by a factor of 10. What if you really got clear about your goals, your career next step, your team’s performance? When you feel yourself judging your ideas and actions because of some painful episode in your past, remember the things — good and bad — that made you who you are today. Decide to accept them and get on with fulfilling your destiny.
3. Forces of Nature Are Never Satisfied
This woman wants to run the world and she wants you to run it with her. Don’t believe me? Look up the lyrics to “Run The World (Girls).” Beyoncé is thirsty. Just when we think we’ve got her tucked neatly into a category, she pushes the limits one more time — just watch the amazing “Homecoming” about her transcendent Coachella performance. How does she keep from getting complacent? She surrounds herself with talented people who demand greatness from her. Look at the list of personnel involved in any one of her albums. It’s epic, and filled with the very best songwriters, managers, audio specialists, producers, stylists, designers, musicians and, not to mention her formidable husband, Jay Z. Beyoncé works hard to harness the talents of every individual in her orbit to get that extra edge. However, she’s the one in there every day, with her sequined sleeves rolled up, always pushing, pushing, pushing for more.
4. You Have to Be ‘Drunk in Love’ With Yourself
As women, especially, we have to deal with the critical voices in our heads. I’m too tall. I’m too short. I have to get this weight off. I don’t know enough to do that job. Our own visions of ourselves hold us back much more so than what others think of us. And all that self-criticism is killing our ability to act courageously.
Beyoncé looked that fear in the face, acknowledged where it was coming from, and then charged ahead with her dreams. When you start to feel the crush of self-criticism, recognize the fear for what it is. Take time out to regroup and fall deeply, madly, drunkenly back in love with yourself.
Greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with extraordinary focus, effort and, most importantly, courage — in your everyday actions and in your belief in yourself.
Therefore, pick something, something really big, something that makes you “freaky” uncomfortable, and zero in on it with a laser focus. Expect to feel challenged, to be nervous, to perspire, to have your heart race. Learn to welcome it. Get comfortable with the discomfort of doing things differently, and you too can have the career you want.