What is the most courageous thing you will do today? I ask myself this every morning. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I just can’t muster the guts to really push myself, but many (even most) days I do.
And when I do, it makes all the difference.
In my practice working with organizational leaders and teams to Put Courage to Work, I find that it is rare that people don’t have the skills, or talent or smarts to get the job done. They have every HR tool and trick of the trade, but they get stuck, and can’t seem to get their work to the next level, or across the proverbial finish line. It comes down to Courage, and the practice of it. Like anything else, when we don’t use our Courage, when we let it go dormant, untapped, it deteriorates. When we strengthen it every day, practicing Courage in all parts of our lives, it can surprise us with its depth and intensity.
I have witnessed Courage at Work in people and systems for nearly 30 years. It is remarkable the risks people will take for an organization that knows how to call out their most Courageous presence. I have witnessed the Courage of individual leaders, like Craig Kennedy of Merck, whose belief in continuous improvement as a way of living fuels the energy and capacity of the people around him to do their best. There’s Donald Comer, Director at FedEx Digital Access Marketing and Board Member of the National Black MBA Association, whose principled leadership and passion for developing the people around him makes him the person who changes people’s paths and lives. And our own local Joella Viscusi, owner ofAmbient Environmental, whose determination, visionary smarts and unparalleled customer commitment makes her a person we would all be privileged to follow.
I see the Courage of my friends, survivors and warriors. Women and men who have left relationships that were wrong for them, created jobs that were right for them and made a difference in their communities by their own hearts and hands.
I see the Courage of my children, saying what is hard, hanging in there through tough times, acknowledging the difficulties of being a young person, but forging ahead with strong spirits, personal strength and unbeatable senses of humor. Their forgiveness of my imperfection, their graciousness, reminds me to be a better human being.
I see the Courage in myself, and I nurture it. I look for it on days when it’s hard to find, calling it up from my toes, wiggling my fingers in hopes of loosening it up. And then there it is. The Courage in my feet that walked away from something that would have always been easier to stay in, the Courage in my hands to create goodness out of hardship, the Courage of my brain to strive for possibility, to laser focus on the right strategy for a client. The Courage in my heart to love again, after I thought I could not bear it, after I was certain that love was not to be for me in this lifetime.
We are, all of us, Courageous if and when we choose. We have it in us. We just need to find it, and Put It To Work.
What is the most Courageous thing YOU will do today? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you your own fancy sticky note pad, as a reminder to call on YOUR Courage, and Put It To Work.