Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
Since this is my last installment in the series we'll finish with a long-term change: let's commit to being more courageous in our professional and our personal lives.
I know, I know. Hear the word "courage" and you probably think of physical bravery, but there are many other forms of bravery -- after all, bravery is not the absence of fear but a triumph over fear.
And that's why bravery is an element of success in business and entrepreneurship. Taking a chance when others will not, following your vision no matter where it takes you, standing up for what you believe in especially when your beliefs are unpopular, or simply doing the right thing even though easier options exist -- those are all forms of bravery.
Take a look at this list and see how many apply to you -- and how many you want work to make sure can apply to you in the future.
1. You're brave enough to believe the unbelievable.
Most people try to achieve the achievable. That's why most goals and targets are incremental rather than massive or even inconceivable. Incremental is safe. Believable is safe.
Why? Because you're less likely to fall short. You're less likely to fail. You're less likely to lose credibility and authority. A few people do expect more from themselves and from others.
But they don't stop there. They also show you how to get to more. And they bring you along for what turns out to be an unbelievable ride.
2. You're brave enough to be patient.
When things go poorly, giving up or making a change is often the easiest way out. It takes more courage to be patient, to believe in yourself, or to show people you believe in them. Showing patience in others also shows you care.
And when you show you truly care about the people around you, even when others clamor for a change, they may find ways to do things that will amaze everyone, including themselves.
3. You're brave enough to say "no."
Maybe you wouldn't have the courage to say no to $3 billion, but do you have the courage to say no to requests for unusual favors, for unreasonable demands on your time, or to people who are only concerned with their own interests?
Saying yes is the easy move. Saying no, when you know you'll later resent or regret having said yes, is much harder -- but is often the best thing to do, both for you and for the other person.
Don't be afraid to say no.
4. You're brave enough to take an unpopular stand.
Many people try to stand out in a superficial way: clothes, interests, or public displays of support for popular initiatives. They're conspicuous for reasons of sizzle, not steak. It takes real courage to take an unpopular stand. And it takes courage to risk not just for the sake of risk but for the sake of the reward you believe is possible, and by your example to inspire others to risk in order to achieve what they believe is possible.
5. You're brave enough to ask for help.
No one does anything worthwhile on his or her own. Even the most brilliant, visionary, fabulously talented people achieve their success through collective effort. Still, it takes courage to sincerely and humbly say, "Can you help me?"
Asking for help shows vulnerability. But it also shows respect and a willingness to listen. And those are qualities every great leader possesses. Maybe that's why there are so few truly great leaders.
6. You're brave enough to show real emotion.
Acting professionally is actually pretty easy. (We all know a few robots.) Acting professionally while also remaining openly human takes courage -- the willingness to show sincere excitement, sincere appreciation, and sincere disappointment, not just in others, but also in oneself.
It takes real bravery to openly celebrate, openly empathize, and openly worry. It's hard to be professional and also remain a person.
7. You're brave enough to forgive.
When an employee makes a mistake -- especially a major one -- it's easy to forever view that employee through the lens of that mistake. But one mistake, or one weakness, or one failing is just one part of a person. It's easy to fire, to punish, to resent; it's much harder to step back, set aside a mistake, and think about the whole human being.
It takes courage to move past and forget mistakes and to treat an employee, a colleague, or a friend as a whole person and not just a living reminder of an error, no matter how grievous that mistake may have been. To forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.
8. You're brave enough to stay the course.
It's easy to have ideas. It's a lot harder to stick with your ideas in the face of repeated failure. It's incredibly hard to stay the course when everyone else feels you should give up. Every day, hesitation, uncertainty, and failure cause people to quit.
It takes courage to face the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure. But how many ideas could turn out well if you trust your judgment, your instincts, and your willingness to overcome every obstacle?
9. You're brave enough to lead by permission.
Every boss has a title. In theory that title confers the right to direct, to make decisions, to organize and instruct and discipline. The truly brave leader forgets the title and leads by making people feel they work with, not for, that person.
It takes courage to not fall back on a title but to instead earn respect -- and through gaining that respect earn the permission to lead.
10. You're brave enough to succeed through others.
Great teams are made up of people who know their roles, set aside personal goals, willingly help each other, and value team success over everything else. Great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make others successful and happy.
It takes courage to answer the question, "Can you make the choice that your happiness will come from the success of others?" with a resounding "Yes!" But the payoff is worth it.
11. You're brave enough to say you're sorry.
We all make mistakes (even if just for creating privacy concerns), and we all have things we need to apologize for: Words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support. It takes courage to say, "I'm sorry."
It takes even more courage not to add, "But I was really mad, because..." or, "But I did think you were..." or any words that in any way place the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.