Today’s news headlines make it hard not to be pessimistic. There are enough maddening stories about international terrorism, racial unrest, war, disease epidemics, and economic inequity to tip even the most optimistic leader over the edge. When faced with these crises of major proportion what can anyone really do?
Few of us would likely answer “be more courageous” because that is a response reserved for persons who are braver and stronger than we are. History can provide a plethora of heroes and heroines who have conquered fear, faced adversity, and lived through grave dangers.
Yet every leader needs to know how to deal with the challenging realities of an ever more complicated workplace and business environment. It requires courage to acknowledge the fear that emerges when we don’t have all the answers or are faced with a tough business decision. And you can do it all without a mask, cape, or superhero powers.
Everyday courage is another form of discipline. It can be developed with a few basic steps.
- Be honest with yourself. Admit your fears, anxieties, and self-doubts. By recognizing that many of our thoughts are misguided perceptions of reality we are better equipped to deal with the challenges those same thoughts create.
- Be more vulnerable and open. The biggest problems you face may seem insurmountable because you probably haven’t asked for help or admitted to anyone that the issue is even bothering you. This approach robs you of available resources that can help you deal more effectively with the challenges before you.
- Believe you can make a difference. If your only point-of-view for problems is based on a need to completely solve them it’s likely you will feel paralyzed to take any action. Everyday courage involves small steps; creative solutions that will make incremental changes for the better.
All of us have done courageous things in the past, we just fail to see them that way or have forgotten what it felt like. Remind yourself to dig deep into those memories and uncover your everyday moments of courage the next time you face a difficult decision or overwhelming problem. Remember how it felt and what you did to get through that storm in your life. Those same skills and abilities are available to apply toward today’s realities.
What might happen in our workplaces, families, communities, and the world if leaders at every level practiced more everyday courage and less false bravado? How will you be more honest with yourself and more vulnerable with others? What steps will you take, however small and tentative, to act in the face of challenge or indifference?
Every large-scale social movement or cultural change in history has been influenced by someone who simply believed they could make a difference; and acted accordingly. What are you waiting for?