Without the Courage to take action, character is just an academic discussion.
She became a Whistleblower after we talked. I was floored. But proud of her Courage to act. Even though it had been two years since I had met Rita at a Becoming A Leader Of Character workshop, she got in touch to let me know she had turned in her bosses for cooking the books. They were now under federal investigation. The result? She was out of a job. But, she was sleeping well. She told me, "I had the Courage to act because you reminded me about what I truly knew in my heart about what was right and wrong.”
When Rita’s bosses brought me into their company, Rita and the senior management team participated in six different workshops. We talked about the six Habits of Character – Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty and Positivity. Rita told me it was our discussions about Courage and Integrity which caused her to act.
“When you said, ‘You can’t have Integrity without having Courage.’ It changed everything. I realized I was not a person of Integrity if I stayed quiet about what I saw the owners doing. I went to them first for an explanation, but their stories did not make sense. I was losing sleep. I knew doing the right thing could cause me to lose my job, but I needed to exercise the Courage to act. So I did, and I will never regret it.”
It wasn’t easy for Rita. She was the main witness against her former employers. These individuals were the decision makers who had brought me into their company to talk about Becoming a Leader of Character. I guess they expected an academic or theoretical discussion. But, without the Courage to take action, character is nothing but an academic theory. We can’t exercise character without the Courage to act—even when it’s hard.
Talking about Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty or Positivity does not mean we embody those things. We must exercise them. We do character reps when we take action and we face the challenges which build our character every day.
We all win some battles and lose some battles when our character is challenged. Whether we win or lose begins with our Courage to take action. It is the first domino we must knock over in order to build our character. It took Courage to do what Rita did—and yet both her, her team and the organization are now stronger for her display of character.
Dig Deep Questions:
What challenges are you facing this week which require the Courage to act?
What would you do in Rita’s position if you discovered unethical actions within your organization?
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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