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Fear Is Real – But Not Undefeated

Courage is the fulcrum of a leader’s character.

Our character hinges on Courage. My dad, The General, always said, “Hey bud, if doing the right thing were easy, everyone would be doing it.”  Speaking up, even though there could be a personal or professional cost for doing so, isn’t easy. It requires Courage.  Most people know what they should do. But when they weigh the cost, they choose to not say or do what they know they should.

That is how certain colleges have gotten in trouble for the sexual abuses of their athletes.  That is how companies become exposed after numerous years of misleading financial reports.  This is why children rebel against parents who preach the value of honesty to their kids, yet this same parent will lie as they see fit. 

It takes Courage to do what we are supposed to do.  Is fear real? Yes.  Fear is real, natural and necessary. Most people, outside of sociopaths, will admit to feeling fear.  Combat veterans, law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel live and operate in the very real face of fear.  

Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is taking action despite that fear. The people who exercise Courage in the big moments – like those men and women in combat or patrolling our streets – weren’t born with a “Courage gene.” There isn’t a magic formula for becoming courageous. Yet, these men and women have practiced facing their fears—and it shows. 

After all, nobody builds Courage by running away from a difficult situation. Instead, Courage is forged each time we turn and face our fears. Why? Because each time we make a choice, it makes it easier to make the same choice again.  People who regularly exercise Courage are in the habit of facing their fears – in both large and small tests.

The good news is, as we face a fear, we build up Courage for the next test to come. Each time we keep our fears in perspective and take action, we get closer to becoming the Leader of Character others want to follow.  

After all, who respects a higher up who passes off difficult customers to other people?  Who wants to follow a leader who allows a cancerous employee to continuously damage the team? Who trusts a boss or a parent who never admits they are wrong?

No one. 

Instead, the leader who has the Courage to confront a difficult client, start the paperwork on an unrepentant employee or admit when the leader himself is wrong proves they are worth following. In turn, they gain the respect, credibility, trust and loyalty of those around them.

As leaders, we will find people pay more attention to what we do versus what we say.

Courage allows us to follow through and take action on what we know is right.  When people see a leader who has the Courage to act, they becoming committed followers.

Dig Deep Questions: 

  • What actions has a leader you admire done which exercised Courage? How did that example speak to you? 

  • What one task could you take on this week which would require Courage to complete? 


Taking responsibility and exercising Courage is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Courage part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Courage, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible. 

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