I had the great honor and pleasure of delivering one of the keynote speeches during a plenary session, where I talked about the importance of just being as a way of connecting, and the many different ways to do that. Meanwhile, the conference was encouraging us to be, too. To Be Bold. To Be Brave. To Be Brilliant.
To promote that idea, I was walking around in white overalls, a white T-shirt and a bunch of Sharpies—asking people to write on me what it meant to them to be bold, brave or brilliant.
The experience was extraordinary.
While there were the expected few who kept a wide distance when they saw me coming, most eagerly grabbed a Sharpie and declared their truth.
In bright color.
By the end of the day I was covered, head to toe, with empowering and encouraging and beautiful messages, all deeply personal to the ones who wrote them. Maybe your message is on there, too.
Those overalls are my new favorite piece of clothing. Here are just a few things people wrote, when I simply asked them: "What does it mean to you to be bold, brave or brilliant?":
- To do what others may be afraid to do
- Always be willing to take risks
- Live your dash
- Be tenacious
- Own you
- Step out of my comfort zone
- Step out on a ledge
- Speak your truth
- Spread your sparkle
- Be unapologetically me
- Take the leap
And here's the thing I've been reflecting on since then ... Nobody who picked up a Sharpie had any problem coming up with something to DECLARE about what it meant for them to be bold, brave or brilliant. It burned in their hearts, like an artist just waiting for a canvas.
But how many of them—how many of us—keep that boldness, that bravery and that brilliance hidden inside of us in our regular day-to-day? How many of us shy away from what we know is possible? Or replace those positive messages with ones of self-doubt? How many of the "overalls" that we wear every day are actually covered in messages of can'ts and shouldn'ts and nos?
Because one thing I've come to believe: If we're not intentional with the bold and the brave and the brilliant, the can'ts and the shouldn'ts and the nos can get reeallllly loud. And bright. And big and glaring ... Until sometimes they are all we see.
My overalls and Sharpies gave participants a moment to focus on the bold, the brave, and the brilliant ... But how do we make that moment everyday life? How do we encourage ourselves, and those around us, to splash the color of those messages on every nook and cranny of every day? What would our days, and the world, look like if we all "wore" our bold and our brave and our brilliant out loud?
I'm pretty sure it would be beautiful.
How can you wear your bold, your brave and your brilliant today?
Currently a speaker, author, educator, blogger and mother, Erika Petrelli has been in the field of education for more than 15 years. She currently exercises her dynamic education experience as Senior Vice President of Leadership Development and self-proclaimed Minister of Mischief at The Leadership Program.