We are all called to “be brave”


by Dr. Mari Ann Callais

In 2013, Sara Bareilles released a song called “Brave” that caused me to stop in my tracks. I love music with a message and this one really touched my heart. I watched the Brave video and I was even more moved! There were people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, dancing and celebrating. Isn’t that what we are all called to be—“Brave.”

The lyrics of the song begin with:
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

“I wanna see you be brave.” I thought long and hard about what those lyrics were saying to me and to others. There have been moments in my life when I have been afraid to be brave – to be true to myself, to take chances, to take the road less traveled. How can we be brave? It is not easy or everyone would have the courage to do it. If we are really going to make an impact in our relationships, communities, work environments, organizations, we have to decide when we need to be brave. Brene’ Brown says, “Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.” We must speak up; we must be willing to be vulnerable in order for our lives to be authentic.

Here are some suggestions as to how to Be Brave:

1. Say what needs to be said even if it is difficult More than likely, someone else wants to speak the truth but does not have the courage—they need you to stand up for what is right.

2. Hold your leaders accountable—even if they fight back—keep reminding them that they took an oath or made a promise to make your organization better—make certain they do—that is your promise.

3. Our organizations would be so different if we were honest and operated from a place of truth. As leaders, admit when we have made mistakes and have the courage to admit when we are wrong.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brene’ Brown states, “What we know matters but who we are matters more”. Whether you stand up for civil rights, undoing a wrong, stepping up when someone is being hurt or treated disrespectfully, it is time to have courage and to be brave! Our world would be such a better place if we all had the ability to speak the truth and value that everyone deserves to be treated with care and kindness.


In Mari Ann’s new keynote, Stepping Up and Leaning In: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading the College, she brings brings the idea of “being brave” alive for students. It’s time for women to “lean in”, taking an active role in their careers, relationships and neighborhoods. And the best place to do that starts within the campus community.

Visit campuspeak.com/callais to learn more about Mari Ann and her keynotes.