After decades of research and selling more than 2 million copies of The Leadership Challenge, Dr. James Kouzes knows leadership. The guy is awesome. When I talked to him, he went directly to courage as a secret ingredient for leaders, but an ingredient that is often missing.
How important is courage? After surveying more leaders than anyone else in the world, he and his co-author concluded:
It takes courage to realize your dreams and give meaning to your values. If you are going to leave a legacy of lasting significance, it will be the result of acting courageously. You can’t plan to be courageous, but you can choose to act that way. Courage is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible. (Emphasis added)
So answer one short question for me: How important is courage?
YOU can’t plan it, but YOU can choose to act courageously. To me, this is the leadership gold.
I tend to think of courage as the big-screen action hero running through a firestorm of bullets. That’s the movies; in our lives, that never happens.
Instead, courage happens in the ordinary things. It happens when I choose to admit my mistake and ask for forgiveness. It happens when I choose to speak up when I see someone else is being mistreated, or when I choose to say, “I need help.” Often courage is needed when I choose to keep my word—even when it hurts.
These are the small choices that add up to a courageous life.
How important is courage? It truly is “the virtue that makes all the other virtues possible.” I want that—and I know you do too.
Choose 1 action step for this week:
- Admit a mistake that you wouldn’t have admitted last week.
- Come to someone’s aid or defense when you don’t have to.
- Do something that is right, instead of something that’s convenient.
THE BOTTOM LINE: John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” In other words, do it scared. If you wait for the fear and anxiety to go away, you will wimp out. But that’s not you; you’re a growing leader!
You’ve got one week before I check in on you. So go and choose to act courageously!