When we think about what it means to be brave, images that come to our minds likely are those of firefighters, astronauts, rescue workers, and other professions where there is some sort of imminent danger. I am a five-foot, 50-something beauty entrepreneur, and my personal journey has led me to take a fresh look at being brave in a whole new way.
Here’s where my shift in thinking began. Ever since I was 10 years old, I was obsessed with hair. Every doll I owned was my client. When I was 12, I mustered up the courage to perm and cut my best friend's hair (my very first act of bravery), and not only did I change her life it changed my life, too. We both gained new senses of confidence and self-worth from that experience. Most importantly, instantly, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, become a stylist. 
Later, in high school, I was told over and over again by teachers and counselors, that by deciding to forgo college and pursue a career in beauty, I was throwing my life away. It was uncomfortable to hear this and even more uncomfortable to stay true to myself and ignore their advice. Yet, I was brave and stuck to my gut and my guns. I became a stylist and then some.
Today, I own that salon that serves 1,000 clients per week, and I also am the founder of Calista Tools, a beauty brand I built one brick at a time. As an entrepreneur, I’ve grown accustomed to being comfortable in uncomfortable situations – which means I’ve become better at being brave. 
The way I see life is that everyone is an entrepreneur capable of turning ideas into action. As the CEO of you, finding your bravery is a beautiful thing. As I look back on my journey, I offer the following advice for others who don’t believe they can do something or are struggling with finding the courage to follow their dreams.
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As the CEO of you, finding your bravery is a beautiful thing.
As I followed my journey, what I learned about myself was that I am fueled by making others feel brave about their beauty. Even Calista’s mission, to offer products with purpose and tools that transform, follows that path. To me, bravery doesn’t only mean running into dangerous situations. It means following your dreams, challenging the norms, and sometimes creating the dangerous situations all by yourself. When you remove fear and insecurity, beautiful things can happen.


Maria McCool