Two Steps to Overcome Fear and Find Courage
Cowards dream of meaningful impact but waste life engaged in meaningless activities.
The courageous act when it matters. Cowards observe.
Contemplation without action is the cowards retreat.
- Refuse to make decisions.
- Delegate to protect themselves.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. Maya Angelou
- Disregard for consequences, that’s foolishness.
- Indifference to others. It takes more courage to include than exclude.
Courageous leaders act when others hold back.
Two steps to finding courage:
- Acknowledge fear to yourself and others.
- Do something. Any reasonable activity will do.
Find courage by acknowledging fear as you step forward.
Ten expressions of courageous leadership:
- Seek clarity when it’s easier to accept ambiguity. Follow curiosity.
- Call reality what it is. “Confront the brutal facts,” Jim Collins. Address problems and issues quickly and openly.
- Stay the course unless alternatives are clearly better. Cowards don’t have the courage to move forward but want to steer the boat.
- Choose simple behaviors over dramatic. The seduction of the dramatic stalls progress.
- Trust proven people to step up again.
- Connect with others. Isolated leaders have good reason to fear.
- Evaluate risks and benefits. Step out when failure is possible not probable.
- Remain open to the possibility of be wrong.
- Change your mind.
- Prepare for success by anticipating reasons for failure. Preparation isn’t passivity or delay.
Courage is a muscle that grows slowly and weakens quickly.
**This is the “C” installment in the alphabet for leaders series.
What other words that begin with “C” are relevant to leadership?
How can leaders find courage?
Like it Dan, another ‘C’ would be ‘Connect’. Connecting with others means understanding their point of view, their values, their motivation. Communicate is another – without good and clear communication a leader cannot connect properly or efficiently. 🙂
Thanks Stuart. Your idea that connecting means understanding others is useful and powerful!
My pleasure Dan, you make me think on a daily basis – it’s good to reciprocate. 🙂
Well said, Stu. I particularly like the ‘Connecting’. As my friend Richard says, Leadership is a by-product of relationship, and influence the currency.
Thanks jnstruck. 🙂
Just posted this to my LinkedIn connections with the comment ‘Dan and Seth Godin in harmony.’ Your observations are timely, relevant and consistent. Just excellent!!
Thanks David. I appreciate the support. Best wishes.
You are certainly welcome. Well deserved!!
Charm, excellent, and so true!
great stuff here…relevant and eye opening…thanks
I have found Leaders that possess the grace of “Charm” they can entrance you, mesmerize you,often times,bring out the best in others developing their courage. Courage can develop through life’s experiences if an individual lacks courage often times they will not take the next step because of fear, they need to get the experience and develop the courageous paths of Leadership. Sometimes we just need to that next step to develop courage, fear can defeat you if you allow it!
Thanks Tim. I appreciate the word “charm.” It might carry a sense of manipulation, but it doesn’t have to. People who care about me seem charming to me. 🙂
Create. Successful leaders are creative. They also create a rapport among the team members. Dan, you and I are in sync on this alphabet thing. I’m a teacher by profession. I can do this alphabet thing forever.
Thanks Dauna. You exposed a surprising side to create when you said create rapport. I typically think of creative as designing solutions.
There is something charming about the ABC’s.
Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision; perseverance is making that decision every day.
Thanks for another excellent post Dan. I have found that for me, courage most often manifests itself in courageous conversations. That seems to be the biggest sticking point for many leaders today- they are not even courageous enough to begin the discussion, let alone take action. It seems like everyone is walking on egg shells rather than confronting the situation or condition that is causing the matter that needs to be addressed. Great post – we all need a bit more courage sometime (if not a lot more).
Thanks Ron. You’re touching on an important point. When we are afraid to have the conversation we just reached the stopping point of progress. Spiraling begins.
We can create a bunch of C words but I think that Connect is a good one.
I have a bit of a reaction to the coward, word, though. Cowardice for me is a pretty strong word and I’m not accepting that to do nothing is that bad a thing. To call someone a coward is a pretty strong act, in my way of thinking. Are 70% of supervisors cowards, for example, and are they cowards at everything or only what others expect from them?
“Cowards dream but waste life…?” In whose view and framework?
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” (Henry David Thoreau)
Is that really cowardice or simply a life of bad choices and unfulfilled results?
Thanks Dr. Scott. I like connect too. I appreciate your reaction to the term coward. It sets me off as well. I certainly hope that every act of delay or doing nothing is an act of cowardice. 🙂
Hits the nail on the head for me today! Thanks Dan
Thanks Bob. A double “C” … 🙂
Good morning Dan;
“Happy Friday my friend”!!!
Fear and Courage will forever be present in the life of a good leader. Irregardless of one’s age, or level of experience, changes to todays business climate occur at a rapid pace to meet customer demand and keep pace with technological advances, and streamlined processes. Change require’s adapting to new concepts and unkown challenges. This is where fear and apprehention come into play. Sitting idlely in dread of the unknown compounds fear in those who are reluctant and resistant to change. Fear deminshes outside the box thinking, instead of brainstorming to put together a solid action plan and moving forward even good teams can ‘freeze’, ‘lock-up’, and allow indecision to stifle progress. It takes courage in todays business climate to face the challenges of the 21st Century.
The future sucsess of tomorrows leader, depends on what they do today. Get to know your ‘Go-2 People’ and become their ‘Go-2 Leader’ that GETS THE JOB DONE! Trust your abilities, trust your people, and trust that when we give 100% honest effort and do the rite thing, good things happen. “They just don’t happen naturally’.
So, roll up your sleeve’s, put on your game face, and prepare to defeat the next challenge with an open mind and a warriors spirit…
Thanks SGT. You out did yourself today.
That opening line, in particular, is gold!
Why thank you Dan. “Lucky for me, I have excellant role models like you”…
Dan, I think that a huge “C” would be “Challenge”. Challenges are what test and increase a leader’s ability. When there isn’t a challenge presented to you, it is your job to create one for yourself and your team. Happy leading!
Thanks Moeleftwich. “When there isn’t a challenge presented to you, it is your job to create one for yourself and your team.” — Kapow!
“FEAR” is a powerful tool in testing your COURAGE. Depending on the length and severity of the FEAR, watch for those who stand on their principles and hold fast to positive leadership … they may be afraid but acknowledge the fear as a tool of distraction that takes focus off the important issues. Courage is not letter fear take control of you.
Thanks Michael. The way you describe fear as a tool opens my mind.
Thanks Dunk…nuff said
Thank you Dan, for your inspiration and constructive point of view.
“C” I like and prefer it,
because creativity is for me, to have an open spirit in my mind … and means imagination.
Creativity is the way of possibilities and designing solutions.
Creativity is the way of development
Creativity is the way of growth with power and will.
Creativity is the way of joy – to learn joyful and share.
Creativity is the way of love (… love what you do!).
Creativity is the way of peace.
Creativity is the way of a deep and lucky life .-)
Thanks for your creativity and your open mind.
I try, to have more and more COURAGE and trust in future.
Best greetings from germany
Thanks Beate. Poetic! 🙂
The open spirit image is powerful.
Thank you Dan, for your “poetic – compliment”. .-)
#HAIKU FOR YOU … A LITTLE PRESENT
Who opens – can receive.
Each moment contains this spell.
Magic of perception – into creator-force.
Haiku! Okay. Time to Play!
Courage for results.
Deal with fear of changing things.
The mind will prevail.
Fear limits results.
A winter of discontent.
Spring forward. Step up.
Courage a big key.
Improvement really needed.
It is time to play.
Demands personal courage.
Time to implement.
“THE TRUTH KNOWS NO DOUBT (… NO FEAR)!”
Courage arises perhaps out of this security,
what do you think – is it – another important factor?
Believe – believe in yourself! .-)
Thanks Beate. The power of belief is important. My experience is that doubt comes with me even as I move forward. Having said that, there are points of certainty that act as a foundation for stepping forward.
OK – I understand you Dan. Thanks a lot.
Be safer and more and more, also the fact that stumble is not bad and error of course.
Up … we almost no longer do, and no doubt prevents us simply to go on, and to have much more positiv effects – like powerful of courage …
Great post Dan! For me, a primary “C” is CARE – for yourself, and more/most importantly – for others. Treating others with care, compassion, and courage will return much more than you give.
Thanks Cheryl. Before ending up on courage as the theme for todays post, I thought about Compassion, Candor, and Courage. There is such a need for leaders with heart. Glad you stopped in today.
Okay. I just illustrated a different haiku and popped it onto my blog. It uses Square Wheels and LEGO and deals with fear, teamwork and engagement. http://poemsontheworkplace.com/2014/08/08/a-square-wheels-lego-haiku-poem-on-courage-and-change/
Great post, Dan, and lots of great insights from your readers. This came at a good time as I started a newsletter on leadership and a blog on coaching. Courage that has added my voice to the ‘body’ of those talking about leadership and coaching. Also, am in the midst of deciding about adding a partner. Again, more courage. So, having a chance to ‘Contemplate’ about courage is well timed.
I like contemplation (not the kind that is about inaction), because it allows me to reflect on how I want to ‘respond’ and not just ‘react’ to a situation/person. I find i am a much better leader when I respond.rather than react…duh!
So, thanks for the jolt of thoughts around courage.
Thanks Jim. Congratulations on starting your newsletter and blog.
Thanks for adding the beneficial side of contemplation. I suppose that contemplation could also be a form of self-reflection.
Crystal Clear Communication – I believe that people tend to think in specifics and communicate in generalities, expecially when it comes to describing behavior. Good Leaders put forth the effort to communicate clearly and specifically.
Thanks Joel. You win the first “triple C” award! I find it takes work to communicate in specifics. It’s easy to talk about “it” or “stuff” or “things.”
Love the thoughts on courage and the other “C” words the community is coming up with! I’d submit “Competent.” It’s hard to lead or succeed if you lack competence. Related to “Competence” would also be “Credibility.” Credibility from leading by example, performance, fairness, follow-through, etc.
Thanks endeavordave. It’s hard to have credibility if you don’t have competence in some area. 🙂
Charisma. All great leaders are charismatic leaders.
Thanks Lalit. Well at least some of them. 🙂
Dan, pretty succinct ,valuable writings on many aspects of human values, intangibles and on reading-that-matters, I am a fan of yours…recently… Great work
Thank you Hitansu.
“C” for Consciousness, consciousness (attentiveness) – to be self aware!
Mindfulness – a development process by heart – which follows – to be aware …
Being a role model … the better or best leader*Smile .-) … for courage.
Thinking – feeling – acting mirror neurons impress express
Yes, great input here and wonderful thoughts.
MY LAST HAIKU “COURAGE”… and a joyful weekend to all
… connected with a lot of courage!
AN (MY) ANSWER
LOVE & PEACE
Hey Beate. You’re like the energizer bunny. You keep on giving. 🙂
Hi Dan.. The A,B, C’s of Leadership is very interesting indeed. I look forward to posts about the rest of the alphabets..
Thanks Soul. I look forward to your input.
Control, Coordinate, Communicate, Create, Coax.
Thanks Alfie. I must say that coax tickle the imagination. 🙂
Coax is a word rarely used in managing people, it is however a much needed skill, through times of change, and during product and project delivery, with challenging deadlines. Think Coerce!
I just popped up another illustrated haiku poster about courage and fear – http://poemsontheworkplace.com/2014/08/08/a-square-wheels-lego-haiku-on-fear-and-change/
You’re starting to look compulsive! 😉
There is a little of compulsiveness to anything that one wants to really accomplish, right? That theme of courage resonates with the issues of risk management and leadership and continuous improvement that I have played with for a zillion years, and I tend to think in illustrations these days.
You continue to contribute to the field in really solid ways, DAN. Keep up the good work. Making people think and then respond is one of the best ways to learn. You and I just try to tweak in slightly different ways.
Just read Ben Franklin (supposedly) said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I hope we are nudging things forward…
Haiku is good fun.
If it also helps get things done.
Consistency is relevant to leadership
Leaders find courage by taking chances without fear of failure
The willingness to fail and improve in order to come closer to perfection
Very empowering words! Without Courage life can’t be lived up to its potential. Without courage it is easy to miss out on the many pleasures of life.
Communication works well with Courage in Leadership
Some may call me a hammer because sometimes everything looks like a nail. I say this because I am an executive whole life coach, and I think another C word is coaching. 🙂 I see that many great leaders are open to coaching, in that they appreciate thoughtful questions and an objective ear. I think they are also not afraid to have their people coached, knowing that it will only bring out the best in them, whether it is at their company or somewhere else better suited.
On another note, the word coward really hits home for me. Yes, it is harsh, but sometimes we need to be jolted into reality. Maybe I feel you are talking directly to me, not to or about some generalized leader because I have a tendency to be to hard on myself (don’t worry, I’m getting coaching). 🙂
I am new here, and I really appreciate your wisdom, Dan, as well as the wisdom and willingness to share it among those who are commenting.
Thanks Laura. Everyone needs a coach. I’m glad you added this word to the conversation.
I look forward to reading more of your insights.
There is courage in simply LISTENING and then allowing others to ACT, in my view. So many managers simply don’t.
But I still cringe at using the word coward since it has SO many associations to war and similar. I use that very selectively, almost never actually. I simply would never call another person a coward, since it is not a word I would use lightly. (And another person might take it in that very serious framework if applied to them.)
Caring and Cheerful: here are two “C” attributes that seem relevant to leadership to me. It is an act of leadership to demonstrate genuine concern for people around and also having the capacity to spread a positive spirit through humour and cheerfulness, this also is an act of caring.