How much “spunk” do you have? You know – real guts or nouse to step up and do with audacity that will achieve you the uncommon? Game to raise your game?
Are you known more to be more “gutsy” or perhaps more cautious? Do you sometimes in hindsight wish you had more audacity or daring? Or do you perhaps sometimes squirm inwardly at recognizing how you may have gone too far? Or perhaps you are such a forceful personality that you might not even notice that? Do you have what we call “chutzpah”?
Neither is necessarily good or bad or right or wrong. However, today I would like to explore the behaviours (and outcomes) this wonderful attitude may engender for us.
Audacity and Chutzpah
Wikipedia describes Chutzpah as the quality of audacity for good or for bad. The word derives from the Hebrew word ḥuṣpâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning “insolence”, “audacity”, and “impertinence.” The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature, and television. The word has also been able to be interpreted as meaning the amount of spunk or ability that an individual has. Chutzpah can be used to express admiration for nonconformist but gutsy audacity.
Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts,’ presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to.”
I think you get the drift, don’t you? Less colourful language today would suggest I’m talking here about having the “balls” to do something that is perhaps outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve a strongly desired outcome. Whilst some personalities (as I wrote in Personality Plus… are more forceful and likely to display such attitudes, I don’t believe chutzpah is something we are necessarily born with and either have or don’t.
I certainly don’t think I was, but there have been many times (particularly since I have been in my own business) that I have looked back on something I did and said to myself: “phew – did I really do that?”. I’m sure that every one of you will be able to relate that having occurred to you too, right?
Having a go
At the very moving funeral of fellow coach Shauna Hearity, one of her friends told a wonderful story in her eulogy that just perfectly depicted Shauna’s signature chutzpah. She spoke of them being at the Australian Open tennis tournament and happening to be located close to Sir Richard Branson, resulted in Shauna extracting a business card from her purse, walking straight up to him and telling him that her recent experience on one of his airline’s flights suggested they were in strong need of her coaching services, proffered her business card and asked for his in return – nonconformist but gutsy audacity.
Most of us would look at that in awe, wouldn’t we? How many of us would actually even think of doing something like that? And how many of us would have the chutzpah to then do so?
In my blog Dealing with Fear I spoke of most great feats having being done despite fear. How? By overcoming fear with courage and action. Having the audacity of doing something never done before.
Achieving extraordinary results often necessitates doing something extraordinary. As the word suggests, it sometimes just requires us doing something extra or perhaps doing something “out of the ordinary”.
Remember back to school and uni days? It was the guys with chutzpah that “always got the girls” and the ones that lacked that courage that watched with envy, right? How do I know, I perceived myself at the time to be one of the latter.
Quite often unusual acts of chutzpah can “just happen”, can’t they? We choose in the spur of the moment to do something we wouldn’t normally do. Granted, sometimes it has backfired. But other times it was the catalyst that was required to move a situation or an outcome to an unusual result, right? What’s the difference?
I have learned there isn’t really any difference, other than choosing to “have a go”, knowing full well that by not reacting to the spontaneous urge and “staying in safe territory” would not enable the uncommon outcome – like they say in golf: “you will definitely miss every putt you hit short”.
We didn’t hear whether the late Shauna’s spontaneous approach to Sir Richard Branson led to an outcome, but would you agree with me that if she practiced this attitude again and again, that she would have achieved many more unusual outcomes than those of us that don’t?
So can acts of chutzpah be planned?
I firmly believe that by strongly “putting out there” that you want something (as in the Law of Attraction which I outlined in my blog The blue Honda that your awareness of new possibilities is also strongly enhanced, and that you notice opportunities or energies you wouldn’t have normally. I have learned that in such situations, that I find myself more willing to have a go” than “normal”. That may well include exploring where and when the application of some brazen chutzpah in order to drive the uncommon behaviours or seek or test for the desired responses can occur. It’s a little like the irony of planning a Surprise!. The better it is planned, the more “surprising” it often is.
Arrogance and Audacity
Of course there can be a fine line between a “cheeky” act of audacity and being seen as arrogant. Some may say (in hindsight) that the end justified the means. Very difficult to know where to draw the line. I believe the only way to find out is by crossing that line from time to time so we learn where this boundary is as I described in Link to Finding the Edge.
What I have definitely learned is that whilst always taking the cautious or even timid option will “keep you safe”, it will also prevent the achievement of extraordinary results.
In my corporate profession I was a CIO, a role that required a lot of procurement of technology, solutions and services, necessitating really good influencing and negotiation skills. Sometimes this required some unusual approaches to get unusual results. I learned some incredibly audacious approaches from very innovative vendors which I could then recognize ahead of others using them on me again, and also using them myself.
25+ years in a company obsessed with the technological edge influenced me in believing that you only “sold something” when it was “perfect”, and I hated sales people that were overly cocky or arrogant, particularly if their pitch “lacked substance”.
But it was only when I went into my own business and had to learn and get good at marketing my own services that I realized the value of such innovation and having to apply that influence, or go hungry.
This is where “thinking outside of the box” comes into its own and upon reflection there have been some great outcomes where I had “the guts” or the chutzpah to attempt the uncommon.
I love to use the example of my fellow coach Joe Pane, who was referred to a client looking for an MC (master of ceremonies). So he called the client to seek an appointment to discuss the assignment whilst at that stage still having no idea what an MC was or does. He simply acted with certainty and got the appointment. On his way there, he called his mentor to learn what an MC is and does, so he could sell himself adequately to win the business, which he did.
Chutzpah or arrogance? I use this story as a metaphor for the attitude that says: “say yes, and then figure out how you will deliver it”. Given my above observation of the conditioning of the “cautious German engineering influence” on me, this audacious attitude was once very, very far away from my “natural position”, I can assure you. Whilst it is still work in progress I have already come such a long way in making this belief work for me that today it already occurs more naturally for me than not.
In my blog Beliefs I discussed that beliefs are “invented in our mind” and that they aren’t reality unless we allow them to become that for us. So if a belief is imaginary anyway, why not replace those that don’t work for us with some that do? That’s what I have done with the above transition from “cautious” to “daring”.
May I strongly encourage you to consider some of the beliefs that might still be holding you back and to replace them with better ones? Believe me if I suggest to you that it is just a choice.
And so it is time to check in with you with the “so what?” question.
If you aren’t (yet) where you want to be in your life’s work, how long are you still going to tolerate less than you are capable of or less than you deserve? And if you are happy with where you at, what is it going to take to raise your game yet another notch, that will inspire others to follow?
What do you believe to be true to yourself? Being more cautious and “settling for less” or spicing things up with a little audacity, just in case that leads to outcomes you didn’t believe possible for you? You know, displaying some chutzpah?
What if you read Theodore Rooseveld’s famous quote Its not the critic that counts and applied its content to you literally?
What if you did and what if it made the difference you have always “wished for” but haven’t so far been “audacious” enough to work for you?
What if you could?