Today, I am sitting here asking myself…do I have courage in how I lead? Courage, like any other part of leadership is a choice…a decision…something you practice in order to improve. Eddie Rickenbacker (WW I Ace Fighter Pilot) stated, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.”
For those of us who are interested in the lessons learned from military greatness, we see that many military leaders were in the line of fire, encouraging their troops in battle. We can read about how George Washington, at the Battle of Monongahela, rode forward to take charge of the troops. He had two horses shot out from under him and his jacket had four bullet holes. We can read about the courage of King Leonidas and his Spartan warrior, at the Battle of Thermopylae (the inspiration for 300).
Not all of us are destined to be great military leaders, but we are all in a position in our family, neighborhood, or job to lead others. Courage does not mean that bold decisions need to be made every day, but it does mean acting on what is right, in the face of what feels fearful. Here are some things to keep in mind as we strive to make courageous decisions.
1) Courage begins with an inward battle. Remember, it is not the absence of fear that defines courage. Courage is doing the very thing that stirs up fear in your heart
2) Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “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.” Being courageous means that you are dealing with principles and not perception. A courageous leader is more focused on the potential outcome of the decision than they are on appeasing others.
3) Courage in a leader, inspires commitment from followers. Like in the examples of George Washington and King Leonidas, when a leader displays courage it inspires those whom they lead.
4) Being courageous will expand your horizons.. I am told that those who face the fear of something like sky-diving, often realize that the fear of sky-diving is worse than the act itself. Once the fear has been faced, it opens up their minds to the idea of exploring more ways to conquer their fears (perhaps it is time to give sky diving a try).
This post is as much to encourage me in being a courageous leader as it is to help others face their fears. If I am honest, not a week goes by without being presented with multiple opportunities to show courage. What am I going to do with the next time I am given a choice to be courageous? Am I going to lead, focus on principle and potential or will I abdicate and let others fill the gap that was meant for me?