We Need More Brave People, Not More Smart People

Charlie Gilkey
2 min readNov 8, 2021

If searching for the smartest next move is keeping you stuck, focus on your most courageous next step instead.

It’s hard to outsmart a problem that’s needing more heart.

There’s no shortage of smart people in this world; there’s a shortage of courageous people.

Think of all the smart people you know who’ve wrapped themselves in the safety of chasing the next educational tier. Or people who are channeling their brilliance on all the ways their managers and leaders are doing it wrong, but never speaking up or trying something unchartered at work. Or people with real, virtual, or mental folders full of great ideas missing one “essential” external condition to start realizing them.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the above. The problem is when they’re elaborate avoidance techniques employed to avoid failure, looking stupid, making the wrong decision, or investing your heart in doing something that doesn’t work out.

In Start Finishing, I asked readers to ask themselves two questions about one of their top three most important projects:

1. What’s the smartest next step on the project?

2. What’s the most courageous next step on this project?

If we’re being honest, most of us get stumped by the first question but usually have a great, quick answer to the second.

The reality is that the answer to the second question is often the answer to the first, too.

Courage doesn’t have to be the “hero” version of courage. It can be as simple as asking for help, showing your work, or raising your hand before you’re ready.

If you’re tired of what being smart is getting you, try being more courageous.

This post is part of a series of “atomic essays” published on Twitter. The previous post from this series is about resistance.

Charlie Gilkey

Author of Team Habits - http://www.productiveflourishing.com/team-habits/ - and the best-selling Start Finishing. Executive coach, investor, and philospher.