Brilliant Bold Breakthroughs

Playing big, leaning into the uncomfortable and finding inspiration and support along the way.

By Denise Froemming & Donna Brighton

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Denise Froemming has 34 years of accounting and management experience—23 of those years with nonprofit associations.

This article leverages both women’s expertise and lived experiences in taking risks in your career.

Could you use a brilliant, bold, breakthrough in your life? After the pandemic reshaping everyone’s life, it’s time to achieve more in 2024. You have all the brilliance you need inside. Access your brilliance, apply bold action, and achieve the breakthrough you need to get beyond the obstacle you’re facing.

Donna Brighton has more than two decades of executive coaching, speaking, and real-life business experience.

Playing bigger and achieving a brilliant breakthrough often involves taking bold and unconventional steps.

Here are three radical steps to help you on your journey:

1. Play Bigger by Embracing Fear and Failure

Radical Step: Make fear and failure your allies rather than enemies.

Many people are held back by the fear of failure so they play small. This limits them and prevents them from reaching their full potential. Did you know that Michelangelo illegally dissected human bodies to better understand the muscles, bones, and the overall structure of the human body? Although it was taboo to work with cadavers, he pushed past the fear of being caught and gained knowledge which significantly influenced the realism and accuracy of his sculptures and paintings. The results of Michelangelo’s anatomical studies are evident in his masterpieces, such as the “David” and the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The detailed musculature, lifelike poses, and emotional expressions in his works showcase a profound understanding of human anatomy.

At the early stages of Denise’s professional journey, she stood at a pivotal juncture. She was an integral part of a family business that was not only flourishing but also foundational to her identity. Her contributions to the business were significant, informed by years of growing the business to thrive. Yet, her academic tenure, culminating in a business degree, had ignited within her a desire for something beyond the familiar success she had known. Confronted with the allure of the known and the uncertainty of the unexplored, Denise faced a life-changing decision. With measured courage, she chose to venture beyond the secure confines of the family business and into the unknown.

This bold philosophy has been a consistent value woven throughout Denise’s career. This vision was pivotal in transforming organizations, whether it was business model transformations or rebranding. In each role, Denise has applied her philosophy with unwavering conviction, approaching each challenge as an opportunity to innovate and redefine the boundaries of success.

Actively seek out opportunities that might lead to failure. Understand that failure is a stepping stone to success and a crucial part of the learning process. Don’t celebrate failure for the sake of failure but as an opportunity to learn and change.

Embrace fear as a signal that you are pushing your boundaries and growing. You can’t eliminate fear, but you can get beyond fear. This mindset shift allows you to take risks and make decisions that can lead to brilliant, bold, breakthroughs.

Here is how to put this into action:

  • Reframe your experiences. Examine the stories you tell yourself about your failures. Assess what you’ve learned and recast the story from the perspective of what you learned versus what you lost.
  • Do something that scares you. That doesn’t mean you eliminate the fear, but embracing it gives boldness to take action in other areas. Donna doesn’t like heights, so she went skydiving! Do a cold plunge, sing karaoke, write the first chapter of the book you’ve been meaning to write.


2. Be BOLD—Challenge the Status Quo

Radical Step: Question conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo in your industry or field.

Ford challenged the status quo in 2006 and hired an engineer from Boeing, an airplane company, to lead their car company. When Alan Mulally arrived, Ford was facing severe financial difficulties, terrible morale, and significant operational inefficiencies. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and transparency, and introduced a unified global approach known as the “One Ford” strategy. He made strategic decisions that defied conventional wisdom. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, while competitors sought government bailouts, Mulally decided against accepting federal assistance and through his leadership that challenged the status quo, Ford underwent a remarkable transformation. The company returned to profitability, introduced successful new models and regained market share.

How do you think about your next move? Instead of just setting a goal, why don’t you deconstruct your future and create a success strategy?

This is the Brilliant Bold Breakthrough Coaching process which involves three components to success.

Start by deconstructing or unpacking everything about yourself. Document your history, skills, strengths, education, experience, patterns, and purpose. These are the building blocks for your brilliant, bold, breakthrough.

The next step is to review the information you collected and reconnect the pieces in a new way to design your future.

The last step is to discover the way forward as you implement your design. Challenge the status quo by breaking apart the pieces to rebuild and create a brilliant, bold, breakthrough.

Brilliant, Bold, Breakthroughs come from challenging established norms and thinking differently. Identify the commonly accepted practices or beliefs in your life and leadership and critically assess them. Look for ways to disrupt the status quo and introduce innovative ideas. This may involve taking unconventional approaches, introducing new technologies, or redefining the way things are done. Don’t be afraid to be a disruptor and pave the way for innovative, groundbreaking solutions.

Put this into action:

  • Be curious. Read a book that is not your preferred genre. Learn a new skill and experience the thrill of expanding your perspective. Tim Ferris did exactly this in the “Four Hour Chef,” where he shares his cooking journey and how he accelerated his learning in something completely unfamiliar to him.
  • Apply the Breakthrough coaching process. Get a coach to challenge you or DIY and go through the process of deconstructing, designing and discovering your future.


3. Cultivate a Diverse Network

Radical Step: Build a diverse and unconventional network that extends beyond your industry, your traditional peer group and your comfort zone.

The communities and networks we build are comfortable, familiar and often status quo. Imagine having people in your life that reflect all your unique facets.

Breakthrough brilliance often emerges at the intersection of different ideas and perspectives. Instead of surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, intentionally seek out connections with people from diverse backgrounds, industries, and disciplines. Engage in conversations with those who challenge your thinking and introduce you to new ways of approaching problems. This cross-pollination of ideas can spark creativity and open up new avenues for breakthroughs that you might not have considered within your usual circle.

Put this into action:

  • Sign up for a conference or event in a subject area completely different from what you would normally attend. Donna went to a Flow for Writers class where she was surrounded by fascinating people like someone from Seal Team Six, the top women’s backcountry skier and many more who she would have never crossed paths with in her everyday life.
  • Join a mastermind group that is made up of people with unique perspectives. A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group that offers advice and support to help you achieve a specific goal. Great leaders learn and grow from being around other people who challenge them, so find a community that stretches and grows you.

Remember, playing bigger and achieving brilliant, bold, breakthroughs requires a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, embrace uncertainty, and challenge the norm. By taking these radical steps, you position yourself for growth, innovation, and the possibility of reaching new heights in your life and leadership.

Share your story of a brilliant, bold, breakthrough by emailing us at 


About the Author

Denise Froemming has 34 years of accounting and management experience—23 of those years with nonprofit associations.

Donna Brighton has more than two decades of executive coaching, speaking, and real-life business experience.

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