When people hear the word courage, they usually think of scenes such as one from Braveheart, in which William Wallace gives a speech to motivate his men. “Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live—at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom?”
The green hills of Scotland were dotted with the bodies of those who had looked the roaring lion of uncertainty in the face, and run toward it. They believed that freedom was worth the risk of death.
Courage is not only meant for the battlefield. According to Keith Caver of Development Dimensions International, “Courage is far more than just a lofty, noble concept appropriate only for fairy tales and movies. Rather, it’s a skill that is essential to business excellence in execution; crucial to ensure a thriving, high performance culture.”
The secret to courage is belief that the values or goals you desire are more important than the fears and risks you will face to win them. Political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Courageous leaders find the defeat of evil or complacency worth the risk of personal defeat.
Good leaders have a backbone that is composed of values, integrity and confidence. Though they may feel fear, they do not let it keep them from their goals. They may fear standing alone, but they do it because of their values.
In the corporate world, courage can reveal itself in many ways. A business leader may need courage to:
- Fight complacency, and change direction.
- Empower others.
- Discuss difficult topics.
- Take responsibility for actions.
- Fire poor performers.
- Care about integrity as much as financial gain.
- Persevere to the end of difficult situations.
- Say “Thank You”
- Ask for help. (We would love to lend you a hand!)
Mark Batterson, author of In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, said, “As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I’ve learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.” The opportunity to be courageous seems intimidating because of the unknown, but taking risks and developing character is part of life. When you are controlled by fear, you slowly become complacent and stale.
As a leader, develop the heart of a roaring lion, courageous to face the next challenge. Not only will your life be full, you will be greatly respected by followers, just like the Scots did William Wallace.