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Six Cousins to Courage


6 Cousins to Courage
By Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

Everyone can learn to practice courage regardless of career or position. It does not matter if you are a sales associate, graphic designer, project manager, photographer, accountant, administrative assistant, CEO, entrepreneur, journalist, construction worker, trainer, electrician, mechanic or stockbroker, you can learn to manifest courage in your work.

Courage comes from the French word corage, meaning “heart and spirit,” which tells us that acting with courage is really about acting from your heart and spirit—from the center of your being. In Being, you identify with your deeper Self and claim the courage that empowers you to confront others’ limiting perceptions; ironically, it also allows you to let go of your attachment to those perceptions and move on. Once you begin exhibiting courage at work, you will discover a direct correlation between your courage quotient and your success quotient.

Researching courage behaviors in individuals and organizational components for over sixteen years, I discovered that there were twelve cousins to courage. Six are featured below: 

1.  COMPOSURE: Is it difficult for you to risk your security? Too worried that a risk might backfire, most people wait and wait, caught up in self-intimidating scripts that prevent them from mustering the courage to take the plunge. It is your courage that supports your ability to let go of deadly attitudes, change the way you organize your time, change your relationships and change who and what you are. Risk-taking in motion is not about the situation you are facing, such as taking on the tough project or starting your own business, but about the internal process you use to examine the risk at hand. Review your thoughts and dreams, study the behavioral patterns that keep you stuck, and uncover your voice as it relates to risk-taking, spontaneity and making mistakes. Risk-taking includes making mistakes, but your courage allows you to recover from your mistakes and step up. That’s a part of self-realization! Eventually, composure merges as a cousin to courage because your self-knowledge has stepped up to a higher level of courage consciousness.

2.  CARRYING ON: Oprah understands how to take her courage to heart. During an important career transition, she clearly recalls her fears. In her magazine she writes, “Almost everyone around me doubted whether I had the stuff to handle a talk show in a tough market like Chicago, where Phil Donahue was king—but I took the step anyway.… What that move and many others since have taught me is that the true meaning of courage is to be afraid and, then, with your knees knocking and your heart racing, to step out anyway.… If you allow it to, fear will completely immobilize you.… What I know for sure is this: Whatever you fear most has no power—it is your fear that has the power.”

This is why your intentions are pivotal in launching or changing your path—declaring an intention to do only work that brings you joy. Former PINK magazine had as their motto: “Courage is doing what you love.” You keep carrying on until you find your passion. Carrying on is a cousin to courage.

3.  FAITH: “Faith is the quiet cousin of Courage. Faith is willing to put its foot out when there is no guarantee that there will be a step to support it,” writes Judith Lasater in Living Your Yoga. Uncertainly lives in this unseen step. We question it, we doubt ourselves, and we stay stuck! Uncertainty is the obstacle that gnaws and manipulates us, many times without our conscious knowing. This unknowing creates a spiraling of unnecessary suffering—suffering that could have been prevented if there had been no attachments to the outcome but rather an appreciation for the present. Besides, every day is a day of uncertainty. Only the ego mistakenly believes that you have a schedule set in stone when you walk out the door to go to work. Why is it that way? The ego strives for certainty.

4. CONCENTRATION: The power of your spirit illuminates the steps that correlate your success quotient with your courage quotient. Embracing this concept calls for a great deal of courageous will so that you can sacrifice the seductive illusion of the external world to find the truth hidden in your internal world, the source of your vision. Twenty-three-year-old 2004 winter Olympic athlete Apolo Anton Ohno manifested vision at work. He made conscious sacrifices, like choosing to live in the dorms at the Olympic Training Center, so that he could concentrate on an intense training regimen. Committed to manifesting his vision, Apolo detached from outside distractions and authored amazing changes in his life, ultimately validating his willingness to sacrifice by winning the gold medal in the men’s 500-meter speed skating event. Anton consciously chose to sacrifice four years of his life to manifest his vision. A fertile spirit flourishes in sacrifice. Concentration is a cousin to courage. What is your concentration level? 

5. COMPASSION: Perceptions about leadership will not change unless we claim the courage to become self-aware, and initiate honesty about how we treat each other. Compassion is a cousin to courage. Do not confuse compassion with fixing. Efforts to fix things, even out of a sense of compassion, ultimately rest on judgments. Compassion helps us move past the tension and see through the false identities that create the tension.

6. CONTENTMENT: Self-disciplined people use their knowledge and skills to restore their spirits with contentment. Contentment is a cousin to courage. Below are a few probing questions to contemplate. Use them as a guide to question your existing model.

-What is it that you do really well?
-How do you rediscover your core strengths?
-What do you like to do?
-What do your peers, family or clients’ value and think you do well?
-How can you sell your strengths in a competitive environment?
-What do you stand for?

About the Author

Sandra Ford Walston, known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™, is a learning consultant, corporate trainer and courage coach. Sandra’s expertise allows her to focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition through recognizing and interpreting courage behaviors and courageous leadership styles.

Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has changed the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra also provides skills-based programs for some of the most respected public and private blue-chip businesses and organizations in the world such as IBM, Caterpillar, Inc., Institute of Internal Auditors, Hensel Phelps, Wide Open West, Agrium, Inc., Virginia Commonwealth University, Procter and Gamble, Hitachi Consulting, City of Englewood, Colorado Healthcare Association of HR Management, and Institute of Management Accountants.

The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE and an honored author selected for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups to discover the power and inspiration of their everyday courage.

STUCK 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder, Sandra’s follow-up book to COURAGE, is directed at any woman, regardless of title or credentials, who wishes to grow professionally by introducing courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job confirms that what holds you back on the job is the same as what hinders achievement—the reluctance to face and live a courageous life. Sandra is published in magazines such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development, HR Matters, Malaysia, and Strategic Finance.

Sandra is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, is a certified Enneagram teacher, and an instructor at the University of Denver. She can be reached at www.sandrawalston.com where she posts a courage blog and courage newsletter.

©2009 by Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert. For permission to make copies or reprints, please contact the author.



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