Be Bold. The Mighty Forces Will Come to Your Aid.

Billy Joel performing in Jacksonville, Florida...
Billy Joel

The title of this post is my favorite quote by Goethe Basil King, and the content of the post is from an idol of my youth, Billy Joel, and audacious audience member Michael Pollack who was in the audience at Billy Joel’s talk at Vanderbilt University.

Taking risks is a great thing to do, but you should be absolutely positive you’re up to the task in a situation like this one. In other words, take a calculated risk. Don’t take a risk for risk’s sake. Don’t be “that guy” who asks to sit in with the band and can’t hack it. When you need to take serious musical risks, do it in the practice room. That way, if you fail, you can learn from it in private.

In this clip, when Michael Pollack asked Billy Joel if they could play a tune together, the risk clearly wasn’t whether Michael Pollack could play the tune. The risk was in getting turned down. Take risks, by all means, but take the right ones. What does this mean? I have no idea what it means for you, but I know very well what it means for me. Taking risks is synonymous with knowing your strengths and your limits, and maybe pushing your limits a little bit.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. schaze says:

    Don’t want to be a smartass but the Quote “be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid” is not from Goethe but actually Canadian author and pastor Basil King, when he was speaking about overcoming fear.

    In the film “Almost Famous” Cameron Crowe misquotes this as Goethe which contributed to the confusion. Goethe ‘s closest quote was “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

    Just my 2 cents… never the less it is a great quote an I also like it very much…

    1. No, that wasn’t smart-assy at all! Thanks for the lesson. I love quotes, and always want to know who said what. I know they’re often attributed to the wrong folks, so I’m glad for the correction. I’m gonna go change that reference right now. Thanks again!

  2. neil says:


    1. Thanks, Neil. Whoever said it, I’ve found it to be true. Can either of you guys give me a reference? Where was this said by each of these men?

  3. donna says:

    I got this saying in a fortune cookie saying Mighty Forces will come to your aid ..can someone explain this to me because I am very sick and pretty much dying I took this as a sign that God Will help me am I wrong for thinking that

    1. Jon Harnum says:

      I hope it means that. To me it means that if you take chances, do and try things that are bold, the Universe will come to your aid in ways that might be unexpected. All the best to you, Donna.

  4. ltj007 says:

    With Goethe, I would assume that he wrote this in German. If true, it means that the quote in question is the product of a translation to English and therefore the exact wording may be open to some degree of debate. And it could differ depending on the translator.

  5. Jamie says:

    Actually neither said it. It isn’t a direct quote, but a paraphrase: “Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.” is the quote from King’s speech

    1. Jon Harnum says:

      Thanks for the input, Jamie. Can you give me a more specific link to the reference?

  6. Matthew Hollen says:

    Jamie above said it right, at least according to wikipedia.. which also says Kings quote is often restated as the ‘be bold, and mighty…’ People over time often re-word quotes, giving them more aesthetic quality, while still maintaining the original sentiment. Just a couple more cents for th piggy bank;)

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