"You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally, 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it." Matt Damon to his son in the film ‘We Bought a Zoo’.
Google the word ‘courage’ and somewhere in the mix you’ll get a bunch of sayings and phrases. While most are inspirational, many are thought provoking and some, like the one above, will make you smile, the overriding impression that you get is that courage is easy if you only get on with it.
Of course if it was that simple then you’d be able to buy a lot of self help books rather than gaze at vague sayings.
The point of courage is that it isn’t simple. Courage requires someone to face their personal fears and make a conscious decision to ignore them. Courage often requires someone to take actions that not only potentially impact themselves but also others, such as their family, that are important to them.
So if courage isn’t simple, why do I keep on writing blogs that suggest that people can develop it through practice and the use of techniques?
I believe that in our rush to reduce the risks of living we have lost sight of the fact that risk also has many positive features. Taking risks allows us to develop as human beings, drives society in new directions and creates new ways of making our lives easier. Every notable achievement and landmark in human evolution has come about because someone has taken risks – from leaving the plains of Africa to the emancipation of slaves. Reducing risk has made courage a precious commodity.
Organizations also try to minimise risk – defined processes, clear objectives, proscribed ways of doing things etc are all implemented for very good reasons but all create barriers to courage. As organizations depend more and more on these predefined ways of doing things, they lose the ability to keep in touch and change with their constantly shifting environment.
Increasing organizational courage not only reconnects companies with their environment but it also gives their employees the opportunity to grow.