No guts, no glory.
Common responses relating to nerve:
“We’re not funding our marketing plan sufficiently.”
“We don’t embrace change.”
“We’re not willing to take creative risks.”
“I’m less bullish on our future than I was a year ago.”
Business is a contact sport that requires conviction to win. We all get knocked off our game occasionally, but if a loss of nerve begins to pervade your organization, it has a tendency to feed on itself. If you lose your confidence, everything follows.
What do you believe in?
Business takes nerve. It’s perhaps the most difficult factor to measure in a company, and puzzlingly, one of the least discussed. But there’s no owner alive who can’t explain the meaning of “guts” in business, whether it’s the intestinal fortitude required to encourage your employees when that feeling in the pit of your stomach is telling you all is lost, or the conviction somewhere deep inside you that this is what you have to do, and you’re willing to give it absolutely everything you’ve got to make it work.
The word “conviction,” which simply means “a firmly held belief,” comes from the same Latin root as the word “convince.” That’s no coincidence: unless you really believe something, and believe it firmly, you’re not convincing anybody. Both words, in the original Latin, literally mean “with conquest.” The old Romans were making a keen observation here about cause and effect. Nobody ever conquered a city halfheartedly. If you want success, then you must pursue it with conquest: decisively, courageously, and committedly. This is why politicians work so hard to show even a single example of their opponent’s “waffling.” No one ever follows an unconvinced leader into battle.
When evaluating a new client’s organizational health, we’ll talk about whether the brand has “sharp elbows” in the market. Does your organization know what it’s about? Does it sell with conviction? Is it willing to look at a competitor and say, “Heck no, that’s our turf!” Are there moral convictions that your team shares universally? Healthy organizations are convicted organizations. You should have goals that everybody knows they are expected to pursue with conquest—no questions asked, no waiting on supervisor permission, no quibbling over org charts and policies. And you should have things that everybody knows they are to avoid, lest they are met with conquest—in this household, we don’t do that. Breaking that rule is tantamount to giving up our soul. We believe our position on this makes us who we are, and we won’t sacrifice it.
The funny thing about nerve is that it’s downstream of the fountain; it’s never the fountain itself. If you don’t believe in the casus belli, then no amount of teeth-clenching or chest-thumping is going to make you a convincing general. But if you’re a true believer, then even at your worst moments of indecision, you’ll still have a reliable compass by which to navigate. So the bad news is, if you fear you’ve lost your nerve, there’s a lot more to be done than “try harder.” The good news is, there are solutions, and they’re bigger than whatever you’re afraid of at this moment.
Have you lost your nerve?
In less than five minutes, we can get a quick read on how your brand’s nerve stacks up against thousands of other businesses.