You Won’t Leave Home Without It
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
In today’s world, courage is one thing every leader needs. It separates the pretenders from the players. We are currently witnessing courage in action, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine. He has shown us what it means to be a leader and what it means to be committed to a cause that is bigger than one man. His actions remind me of the courage demonstrated by those who stood up to empires and evil throughout our nation’s history.
Thankfully, we are not all called to put our lives on the line daily as President Zelenskyy is currently experiencing, but we are called to take stands, make decisions, and take risks that require courage. I think it’s good for us to take a courage inventory. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I willing to speak up for what I know is right?
- Am I willing to speak up when I am concerned about a decision that has been made?
- Am I willing to address performance and behavior issues?
- Am I willing to have a challenging conversation to help strengthen a relationship?
- Am I willing to step out in the direction of my dreams?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you might have a challenge with courage. Don’t be too discouraged; I’ve struggled with all of these at times, and there is something we can do about it.
Let’s first get something out of the way. Courage always begins internally. Every test you face as a leader begins within you. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing what you are afraid to do. It’s the ability to let go of what is for what could be. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over. It’s dealing with principles, not perceptions.
When leaders act with courage, they inspire commitment and courage in others. Quite simply, courage is contagious. When followers are fearful, they borrow courage from their leader. When they struggle to believe, they borrow a measure of belief from their leader. We see this in the people of Ukraine. Young and old are feeding off the courage of President Zelenskyy and are standing firm against incredible odds.
Your life expands and contracts based on your courage. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” Fear paralyzes and limits us. Courage expands our life, and that expansion is in direct proportion to our willingness to try new things. John Maxwell put it so well, “Everything you want in life is just outside your comfort zone.”
If you would like to go a little deeper into this subject, please join Marisa Norcross and me for episode 250 of The Next Page podcast as we look at actions you can take starting today to become more courageous.