A simple sentence yet very powerful.
Without fear there is no courage. An action that does not create some degree of fear in the person is not courageous but simply an action.
Fear is our bodies / mind’s way of warning us – are we sure we want to do this, have we thought about the consequences?
However, how can we judge whether someone has to overcome fear in order to act i.e. whether they are courageous or not? We often judge courage from our own perspective – “would we be fearful doing that?”; or by the lack of action in others – “why is no-one else doing that?”. Yet what is fearful to one person is often another’s pleasure (extreme sports are an example of this) – so how can we teach courage?
When we teach workplace courage to individuals we ask them to recognise a few key things;
1) Courage is personal – there is no right or wrong, lots or little. No one will ever be able to judge our actions as courageous or not.
2) We almost always over-rate the perceived risks of an action – the negative consequences of taking an action are frequently (but not always) less than we might imagine. We can take steps to better assess the risks of our potential action.
3) Courage is not usually all or nothing – the need for courage does not often sneak up on us unexpectedly. We can frequently take little steps to address the issue before we have to draw the line from which we have to take the courageous step.
4) Courage has a positive and negative impact – while focusing on the risks we should not ignore the sense of purpose that it also brings. Courage can bring large doses of mental well-being, a sense of ‘being alive’ and earn respect.
5) Courage can be nurtured – is it any wonder that the two most ‘courageous’ organisations (the armed forces and religious institutions) in any society have centuries of experience in developing training programmes that are able to produce so many courageous individuals. With the right environment, a clear purpose, a few tactics and the chance to practice any individual is capable of becoming more courageous.
In the workplace, fear is an emotional reaction to the uncertain or unknown. Training allows us to reduce the unknowns.