The past is the future, apart from courageous leadership.
Doing hard things takes courage; letting go takes most of all.
Someone moves first, that’s you. Leaders move toward “not yet” while letting go of what is. The challenge of leadership is we never move up till we let go of what’s below.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,” C. S. Lewis.
The testing point of leadership is courageous letting go.
What you let go, determines your potential. Stop pouring yourself out for things that don’t matter. Letting go begins by challenging the status quo.
Courageous letting go:
Identify what to let go by asking, “What would happen if this were not done at all?” Peter Drucker.
It’s foolish to let go without vision. What you’re willing to let go determines your potential; what you reach toward defines your success. Once again, Drucker helps.
- Can we take action on this idea? Or can we only talk about it?
- Can we really do something right away to bring about the kind of future we desire?
- Will it produce economic results?
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others,” Winston Churchill.
- Honesty. Listen to and welcome uncomfortable truths and ideas about yourself. Self-honesty is the beginning of all honesty.
- Candor. Speak challenging truths and share uncomfortable observations.
- Respect. Let go of reputation building.
- Contradictions. Humbly listen to and explore challenges.
- Feeling appreciated. Give gratitude when you don’t get enough.
How do you find your courage?
What are some testing points of courage?
More on courage:
“8 Ways to Overcome Fear and Find Courage” – #1 Share your fears with trusted friends.
“Finding Your Courage” – Gutless leaders create complexity.
“A Different Kind of Courage” – Those who fail well are humbled and enlightened. Read the courageous story of G.J. Hart, CEO of Texas Roadhouse.
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Great insight , practical advise.
Thank you!! Just what I needed! A good word. A positively charged word.
Too little of it is cowardice
Too much of it is recklessness
Another awesome post, Dan! Thank you once again.
I instantly thought of the song, “Brave” by Nichole Nordeman.
The specific lyrics that hit dead on to what you’ve said, “Letting go begins by challenging the status quo” go like this…
“So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave…
I’ve never known a fire that didn’t begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I’m gone”
You can listen to the song by following this link: http://youtu.be/ZY2UElh7QaE
To answer your questions, having someone believe in me as much as I believe in them helps me find courage.
The testing point (contradictions) is when we are faced with adversity, do we just give in to the status quo because it’s what’s easy, or do we hold to our faith because it’s stronger than what we may visibily see as the answer in front of us? It is the most successful leaders who step out on faith towards a vision that no one else could believe in or see.
The last thing you mentioned today was, “Those who fail well are humbled and enlightened.” That is so true. You know, Thomas Edison attempted about 10,000 times to create the light bulb. A reporter once asked why he continued to try to create light with electricity when gas light was here to stay. He replied, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I believe Thomas Edison was an extremely humble and enlightened individual. Find courage in this story every time you flip on a light switch. 🙂
Courage is the core of all leadership traits I believe. I believe that courage originates from character. Stronger character leads to stronger courage. Courage leads to conviction. And conviction to goal makes one successful. Courage is truth, honest and transparent. Anyone having dishonestly, untruth and opaqueness cannot have courage. Though he might be motivated to achieve something but definitely he can’t have courage. I find my courage by introspecting and connecting with my goal. I compete with my potential to achieve my goal. When you compare yourself externally, you may not derive true push towards your goal. Some testing points of courage could be unfavorable and odd circumstances, unexpected outcomes etc. When others achieve something with something that you believe is not right, then you question your believe and courage. Courageous people enjoy every moment in their lives because they are led from within and what is right. Courage has bigger focus which is beyond self interest. It is about making bigger impact on people, enterprises and societies. It is about reality, morality and ethics.
Nicely put Ajay. regards Richard
Well said, Ajay. I particularly like your connection between courage and character.
As a leader people count on you, your courage is their future, that’s all the motivation I need (though I have more :)) . Testing points? Unfinished business = lack of courage.
Cheers Dan, Richard
“Your courage is their future” is powerful and sobering!
The concept of courage in leadership is very well explained in simple terms. I find courage when someone challenges or doubts my ability and integrity in the workplace or family front. I also get the inner push when things are going wrong and are against the organization interest.
The testing point remains as how I show courage by putting across my views with conviction and moving forward with an extra zeal.
Dear Dr. Asher,
I see in our comment that courage is a rising up to meet challenges both personal and to something we care about.
I love the tone of your comment because it faces forward.
One of my all time favorite books is written by Susan Jeffers. Title ?
‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. Isn’t that a great title? It should be a mantra for our lives.
I’ve used many of the suggested activities inside the book with my students. Usually teens don’t really understand that EVERYONE feels fear. They believe others feel no fear and that’s why they can be courageous. Ha!
Courage is simply moving forward in spite of the fear. Let go of the known and walk, in spite of your fear, toward the unknown. That is the only way growth happens.
Donna, thought of this from Peter Barton’s book, Not Fade Away..”Fear makes us study ourselves, forces us to admit our soft spots, to see where we are vulnerable. In the end, we can’t undo that vulnerability; we can only accept it, and crawl forward in the face of it. That, I’ve had to learn, is part of being human.”
Courage comes out of that “crawling forward.”
Dan, nice post, not an area I have thought about before, very stimulating. It makes me think about various leadership challenges including delegation, stepping up and leaving your comfort zone to the more physical side of leadership such as combate.
As I said, very interesting, thank you.
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@daunaeasley: thanks for the book title. Sure my next read.
Getting out of our comfort zone! The familiar and “safe” is our greatest enemy. Remember how we were as children. Every day was a “cliff jump”. We lived and we learned. Let us remember how we were once. Now we are safe. Then we were not but we acted anyway because it is the way children live. They do not need control al the time.
I just wanted to share these thoughts with you – about the childish way of living. We can re-Finding Courage