It is intriguing how courage is a skill that has gained relevance in many contexts. In the past, courage was considered a feature of leaders’ character; however, small everyday tasks require different levels of courage from everyone, leaders and followers. E.g. to stand up to your bully boss/colleague, to break up with your partner when in a complicated relationship, or to turn down an excellent job offer to embrace the decision of entrepreneurship.
To my mind, courage is a skill that not many people possess, but everyone needs to develop. So, what is courage and how it can be developed? Courage has been associated with skills such as audacity, bravery, determination, being daring and heroism. The Oxford dictionary defines courage as “the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”. A second definition states: “strength in the face of pain or grief”(1).
Brené Brown connected courage with vulnerability and said that vulnerability is hard, scary and it feels dangerous. Despite these feelings, she believes that nothing would be worst than wondering what would have happened if any action had been taken instead of doing nothing. She believes courage is indisputably linked to being vulnerable.
One episode of Game of Thrones is quite inspirational in defining courage. Episode 8×03 where everyone is ready to fight against the Night King with the uncertainty of the enemy’s superior skills, the viewer can feel the fear, the anxiety and terror in the characters’ eyes and it is extraordinary how they face battle to defend their lives. That is courage!
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to contrast some statements that I associate with courage against some business skills. This is the result:
|What is courage?||Business Skills||Explanation|
|To face the unknown, understand and accept that you are afraid.||Emotional Intelligence (EI).||This will help manage your emotions and others. You could anticipate your competitors’ reactions.|
|To be exposed and still fight, even if every chance is against you.||Trust in your own abilities and show confidence (even if you are freaking out inside). |
|Your self-confidence will remind you that you are capable of beating your opponent|
Being able to analyse every failure and learn from each experience.
|Trusting not just in yourself but in the people around you (your team).||Team work and delegation.||Knowing your team’s skills will increase your confidence in them. Remember the concept of synergy.|
|Understanding that when in battle you kill or you die.||Integrity.||Win with justice and have clear your own values. A clean battle will give you more satisfaction than a dodgy win.|
|Have multiple plans.||Creativity.||Be prepared to respond to different scenarios.|
|Be ready to sacrifice yourself, if necessary.||Strategic thinking.||To demonstrate commitment to the big picture, the big plan.|
|Respond like a warrior||Listen to your instincts and assume the consequences of your actions.||To show strength by accepting when you are wrong.|
|Recognise others’ efforts.||Motivation.||To inspire your team.|
|Find the right message and the right moment to motivate others.||Empathy.||To maintain and increase performance in the crucial moments|
|To forgive others but yourself first.||Self-motivation.||Truly believe that you deserve to win.|
|Show bravery until the last moment.||Strategic thinking.||The final moment of bravery is the most important one, when your opponent believes that you are at your weakest. That could determine whether you win.|
The following graphic shows how I link courage with some essential business skills.
(1) Oxford Dictionary. (n.d). Available from: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/courage[Accessed 7thMay 2019]