One day in my workout class, the instructor asked each of us to introduce ourselves and to answer one question: What makes you a badass?

I LOVED this question so much that when I threw myself a birthday party, I only invited people who I thought were badasses. As they entered the party, they had to answer that question—What makes you a badass?—and write it down on a card. I then strung those cards up so everybody could read them.

The next day, as I was cleaning up from the party, I read back through those cards. It was fascinating to see why different people thought they were badasses. And I was fascinated at what was NOT said. Nobody said, “I am a badass because I have an important title and a big job.” Nobody said, “I am a badass because I make lots of money.” Nobody said, “I am a badass because I have a big house.” Which is funny to me because we live in a society where so much emphasis is put on success and achievement, and where success and achievement are indicated by someone’s job, someone’s wealth, and someone’s possessions. But none of the people at my Badass Birthday Party defined their badassery that way.

Instead, they answered “What Makes You a Badass?” with things like:

  • My kindness
  • My creativity
  • The way I handle adversity and learn and get better from it
  • My confidence
  • My persistence

And here’s my favorite one…

Now … the group of people who responded were obviously invited to my party by me, and I don’t really like hanging out with people who are impressed by material things so perhaps those answers aren’t all that surprising given the attendees. But still, I was amazed by these answers because they hit at the core of each individual. 

And these answers also gave insight into the reserves that these people could draw on when they needed to be gutsy. When they need to find a new way, gather up their courage and confidence to do what is right for them when it’s not what everyone else expects of them, and seek support from others, they know that they can rely on that inner badassery to help them get where they need to go.

So what makes me a badass? That I can jump into the deep end of things and just sort of figure it out. I’ve thrown myself into so many unknown situations—in personal relationships, at work, while traveling—and somehow, although I struggle, eventually I figure it out.

Now it’s your turn … What makes you a badass?