Last month I was invited to a Salon. I joined the most extraordinary women committed to making a positive impact on our fast changing world– innovators such as Cindy Gallop, Pat Mitchell, and our host Jacqueline Novogratz. We listened to Arianna Huffington discuss her beliefs, her work, her plans. Not surprisingly, I piped up more than  once during the discussion that followed – as a brand futurist it’s easy to have an opinion about dang near anything. Yet when Ms. H. looked directly at me and — in front of all — and asked me if I write, I had to answer quietly, “no” (unless you count long,passionately argued emails sent to my best friends! Apparently editors do NOT).

The invitation was made to open up and more courageously share my voice and fast typing fingers. And in reply to my short follow-up note thanking her for this push (and committing to submit a post to her Opportunity: What is Working blog on US job creation), I was promptly gifted a copy of one of Arianna’s books.

I laughed as I considered that when the Universe works that hard to overnight a book to your doorstep with the title “On Becoming
Fearless”, you really gotta pay attention!

And I have … and I will.

In addition to work and motherhood, I’m the producer and curator for a large TEDx event in Austin. We just announced our 2013 theme will be “FearLess”. It’s a desire to accelerate the courageous leadership and bold innovation necessary to build a strong, vital
future. The world is in the middle of a big shake-out and business models for every single sector are facing necessary reinvention —
from Google (and Facebook) to GM, NASA and NASDAQ. There is not one organization — or household, for that matter — that doesn’t need to be thinking about whether or not they have an approach that will carry them successfully into the future. And yet this takes guts.

Change is hard. And driving big, meaningful change can be really hard.

The good news…

While there are some very tangible and increasingly dire issues impacting our future (health, financial, environmental and education
crises just to name four biggies), there are also some encouraging counter-forces forming:
– A genuine move toward greater collaboration, contribution and conscious decision-making
– Individuals recognizing both the power of their own voice and the solidarity of community
– A rising generation filled with native talents and a generous and global sense of fair play
– And, importantly, women becoming extraordinary leaders and guides to this new economy

What is needed most is Courage.

As leaders, we realize we can’t afford to stay the course or trust the future to a frightened few who often make short-sighted and small
scope decisions based on outdated models. And we can’t afford to keep our ideas, thoughts and actions muffled. We must become big
thinkers, courageous doers and generous champions.

Gratefully, we can find this kind of courage by being in (and contributing to) a nurturing community which lets our light shine big
and bright. Being with those amazing women during that Salon made action seem so tangible. Sharing this with you feels exciting — and I’d say counts as “writing” don’t you? (grin)

Bottom line, I’m learning that rather than duck it, fear can be a brilliant flashlight. It helps us see what we most need to address
(both as an organization and a human) in order to contribute with bravery and brilliance. And channeled positively, it gives us the
gumption to make these big shifts our allies — not our enemies.

The future is ripe with opportunity for those with the guts and passion to claim it. The future is in our hands, ladies. Let’s get on with it.
We need to Fear Less and _______? (how would YOU like to answer this?)