Maybe it’s your current boss. Or a great from history.
Lincoln. Gandhi. FDR. Martin Luther King. Mandela. Lee Kwon Yu. Mother Theresa.
- They were bold in their vision.
- They spoke candidly, but respectfully.
- They didn’t shy from tough conversations.
- They said sorry and owned what they got wrong.
Yet weren’t immune to fear. What set them apart was their courage to act in its presence.
Courage comes in many forms and, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is the one virtue that guarantees all others.
We are not all called to lead countries or companies or social movements. Yet each of us is called to act with courage in some way. And not just for our own sake.
As we navigate an uncertain path out of a pandemic, the world is hungry for people to act with courage; to lead themselves and others to higher ground. So in the midst of this turbulent time, it’s vital to decide who we want to be as leaders, as change-makers, in our unique own way – in our communities, our teams (virtual as they may be) and diverse spheres of influence.
Of course, it is easy to look to others – those with titled positions of formal power – to change what isn’t as we think it should be. Yet we cannot fix the problems we see around us if we’re abrogating all responsibility for them. We must be a proactive participant in co-creating the future we’d like to live in; doing our part to address the deeper issues and inequities we might otherwise resign ourselves to.
In Oprah’s Class of 2020 commencement address she said that each of us are being called to “ temper the parts of us that must fall away” and to “make peace with the discomfort of stepping into the unknown.”
If you’ve ever looked back and wished you’d been braver – spoken up, made that change, taken that chance – you know the strength of the human desire to seek comfort and security, not to risk it. The lure of the path of least resistance, of greatest safety (at least in the short term) pulls hard against the higher inclinations of our nature to become more of the person we know, deep down, we have it within us to be.
Leadership is not the domain of the few. It’s but the domain of anyone with the courage to act with it. And each time you take action amid your fear, you dilute its power and magnify your own.
When we don’t use our power to influence the world around us, we relinquish it for others to wield for us. So right now, make a conscious decision about who you want to be.