I am NOT afraid!

Fear.  It gets the best of us some times.

There are so many things to be afraid of.  Bad relationships, rejection, “the dark”, flying, heights, illness and death to name just a few.

For me?  SPIDERS!  Yeesh….I do not like spiders.   They creep me out.

But what about at the workplace?  What are you afraid of?

Public speaking?  Your boss?  A co-worker?  Competition?  Public humiliation?  Getting fired?

Or perhaps the greatest fear of many people: failure.

Again…..there are plenty of things to be afraid of.  However, they all have something in common.

Do you know what that is?

They all require COURAGE to get over the fear.  Whether I am merely living with a fear or trying to outright overcome a fear, it all requires courage to do so.

Today, I want us to focus here.  On COURAGE.

Leaders should be courageous!  It is a key skill.  It is a key differentiator.  Leaders need to be courageous in the day-to-day situations they face AND they need to be courageous in how they approach their business.

Have you heard the term “courageous leadership”?

When I hear this term, it’s often spoken of in reverence.  It’s almost like someone is whispering it in awe or surprise.  “She showed courageous leadership.”  “He led with courage.”  It’s also something that I hear far too infrequently.  I don’t hear it every day or even every week.

This is odd to me.  If courage is a key skill of leaders, why aren’t there more displays of courage?

Courage in Day to Day Situations

You know what this looks like.  You’ve seen it before.

Most of us immediately think of  “ethical courage”; doing the right thing in the face of adversity.  This also has a strong link to integrity, which is paramount for leaders.

However, situational courage takes on many forms.  Do you have the courage to:

  • Tell a direct report that they are underperforming?
  • Tell a peer that they were a bit harsh with one of their employees?
  • Tell your boss that they are wrong?
  • Tell a vendor or business partner that they are going to lose their account?
  • Seek forgiveness and admit that you were wrong?
  • Champion an associate that you believe in that’s on the verge of being fired?
  • Go against the grain and the many?
  • Swim upstream?

These situations all require courage to take an action.  To do what you know is right.  Not what is popular, but what is right.  What is best for the associate.  What is best for the business.

In addition to courage, they require the skill to read the situation, make a judgment, determine an action, and follow through.  It often requires common sense and finesse, especially when dealing with controversial and unpopular topics.

Do you show courage in your daily actions?

Courage As an Approach to Business

Courage is not always situational.  It is not always the snap judgment that needs to be made in a split second.  It can be a very deliberate way to approach the way you do business.

I read a white paper by Keith Carver who talked at length about deliberate courage as a way of business.  In his paper, he quotes a Harvard Business Review written by Kathleen Reardon titled “Courage as a Skill.”  She said:

“…courage is rarely impulsive. Nor does it emerge from nowhere. In business, courage is really a special kind of calculated risk-taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success – and avoid career suicide – through careful deliberation and preparation.”

What Carver loved about this quote  was that it captures courage as a skill—one that encompasses risk-taking, decision-making, and experience.  He went on to say that courage is essential to business excellence in execution; crucial to ensure a thriving, high performance culture.

The question you should be asking yourself is “How do I apply courage in my business?”  Carver outlined five ways:

  • Exploring the unknown. It’s unsettling for many to navigate uncharted territory. But stepping out of the box, the silo, the rhythm or the status quo is a necessary discomfort to realize the next big idea.
  • Trusting one’s ‘gut.’ A leader’s intuition and instincts are honed by years of experience. Sometimes trusting them is a necessary leap of faith.
  • Nurturing the creative. Also potentially scary: removing boundaries, enabling time to think provocatively, and the breathing room needed to uncover a great idea together.
  • Taking measured risks. This calculation is often built on years of experience, but ultimately leaders must be able to pull the trigger and commit to an uncertain plan with potential but no promises.
  • Contingency planning. When the measured risk falls short, then what? Is there another direction to take, or a lesson to be learned. Courageous leaders think it through.
Do you show courage in the way you approach your business?

Final Thoughts on Courage

Gus Lee, who wrote Courage:  The Backbone of Leadership said, “[A leader] without courage is a captive of fear who cannot lead others across the river (the challenge).
Getting over a fear doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.  Smart leaders know their fears, understand their fears, and look for ways to overcome their fears.  This may include having the courage to ask others for help.  There are a number of people that can be your strength; mentors, supervisors, colleagues, pastors, counselors, spouses, friends, etc.  If your fear is great, don’t go at it alone.
So what are you afraid of?  Do you have a fear that is holding you hostage?  Do you have the courage to overcome it?  
Do you apply courage in daily situations and in your business approach?
How are you perceived as a leader?  Are you characterized as showing courageous leadership?  Or do you fall short?
If you do fall short or are a captive of fear, repeat after me:
“I am NOT afraid.”
“I will overcome my fears.  They will not hold me captive.”
“I will be courageous in my daily decisions.”
“I will be courageous in how I run my business.”
“I will lead with courage.”
“I am NOT afraid!”





One Response to I am NOT afraid!

  1. Hank says:

    This is a great topic! When it boils down to it, we make a lot of decisions based on many varieties of fear. Believing in one’s self, acting with integrity and not worrying what others are thinking is more powerful that you can imagine.

    Thanks for another great lesson!


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