Friday, October 3, 2014

Why boldness, and not bravery?

As discussed yesterday, boldness is often synonymous with bravery. I debated over which word to focus on for this series, over whether it even mattered since the words are so similar, but in the end I decided to focus solely on boldness.

For starters, bold is a slightly more subtle word than brave (oh, the irony), and subtlety generally means there are more layers to unfold. We all know what bravery is, but we don't often hear about boldness as a virtue (or a vice, as I'll talk about later).

Bravery is a state of being. To be brave is to act despite your fears. Boldness, on the other hand, is how you perform an action. It's the difference between walking a tightrope just to get to the other side and walking across with a bit of flair—arm twirling, flips, crazy stuff like that.

To use a Star Trek example (Shannan, I want you to forget this ever happened), the motto of the show is "To boldly go where no man has gone before." (To clarify, I know this only because my editing classes always used it as an example of the split infinitive—I don't actually watch Star Trek. Unless Chris Pine is starring, of course.) Their goal isn't simply to discover new worlds, travel at unheard-of speeds, or do whatever it is those trekkies do. It's to do all these things with style.

Kind of like in Harry Potter, when Phineas Nigellus says, "You know Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts, but you cannot deny he's got style." (Now that I've countered my Star Trek example with a Harry Potter one, I feel much more like myself.)

In short, bold living isn't just about the things you do. It's about how you do them. The way you live your life is just as important as what you do with it.

The other posts in this series are available here.


  1. Good question...when I think of the two words it seems that boldness is more external, more willing to be exposed. Where bravery often encompasses more internal battles.

    I like the way you use bravery as state of being. I think that ontologically separates the two beautifully :)

    1. I like your thought that boldness is external, while bravery is often more internal. That would explain why boldness is usually harder for me—you can't really be bold while being sneaky, which is the way I prefer to do a lot of things.