I have been thinking a lot about courage. It is at the core of leadership. What is courage? Most of us recognize its opposite in this snippet from The Wizard of Oz:

    Cowardly Lion: Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven’t slept in weeks.
    Tin Woodsman: Why don’t you try counting sheep?
    Cowardly Lion: That doesn’t do any good. I’m afraid of them.

But our own position on the cowardice-courageous continuum is much more subtle than that. Our personal development journey is strongly determined by the extent of our courage. Do we seek feedback that we don’t want to hear? Are we open to opposing views or approaches? Are we ready to address personal and professional obstacles blocking our growth? Are we continually stretching our comfort zone?

What about our courage to address team or organization issues that are blocking progress? Do we point fingers or lament that “they” ought to do something? Having the courage of our convictions calls for strong leadership. It’s much easier to be quiet and just go along. And the silence can say it all. We’ve become a Cowardly Lion.
Here are a few thoughts on courage:

  • Giving in to our fear is to die before our body stops functioning.
  • Sometimes it takes more courage to sit down and listen than it does to stand up and speak.
  • It takes courage to see myself through the eyes of others.
  • Courage is the key that unlocks the door to our inner selves.
  • We all have fear. Courage is to master rather than be mastered by our fears.
  • Bravery often increases with distance.
  • I’d love to get your thoughts on courage. What helped you get up the courage to do what you feared? What holds you back?