Courage and the Four Lenses

“A tortoise only moves forward when it sticks its neck out.“ Ricardo Semler

In choosing to blog on courage, we make no pretence of being consistently, let alone significantly, courageous. We have no experience of the bravery required in dangerous situations, which our world and the news are full of. Here we’ll stick to courage in everyday situations, personal and professional - the preparedness to take considered risks, deal with challenges, take action and push boundaries.

We’ve had a range of experiences demanding everyday courage. In those where we showed healthy courage we mostly experienced rewards:  and in those where we wimped out we typically missed opportunities or failed to deal with issues and let them fester. In some important situations our courage was enhanced by others who gave us the confidence that we had what it took to deal with a challenge.

Speaking of wimping out, one of our favourite children’s books (which we used to read together years ago) is “Willy the Wimp” by Anthony Browne.

Willy was frightened of everything and everybody but one day he answered an advertisement titled “Don’t be a wimp”. He built up his muscles, liked what he saw in the mirror and became much braver.  Willy then found the courage to defend his girlfriend Millie from the local gorilla gang.

Most ingredients of a happy and successful life depend regularly on courage, so you have lots of opportunities to give your courage muscles a workout and, like Willy, to build them up over time.

So it comes as no surprise that courage features prominently in all Four Lenses. Here’s a small selection of thought-prompters.

The Identity Lens – Do you have the courage to:

  • ask yourself “Who am I?”, “What things in life are deeply important to me?” and “What are my values?”
  • handle feedback with an open mind?
  • believe someone when they say you are capable of big things?
  • explore and face up to your feelings?
  • explore what mindsets are running your life?
  • be objective about your strengths and weaknesses?
  • seek objective feedback ?

The Opportunity Lens – Do you have the courage to:

  • dream big? …and tell others about your dreams?
  • move outside your comfort zone or travel to unfamiliar territory?
  • be a player not a victim when the going gets tough?
  • perform or display your creative work publicly?
  • acknowledge when you’ve closed your mind and then take steps to open it?
  • embrace change and look for opportunities in it?
  • recognize that you’ve got a lot to learn?
  • put a proposal to someone and risk rejection? 

The Impact Lens – Do you have the courage to:

  • commit to and prioritise a particular direction?
  • make decisions on the available imperfect information?
  • seize the moment?
  • tell things as they are and ask for help?
  • take on a challenge or experiment and risk failure?
  • be vulnerable?
  • back someone you believe in even though others may not? 

The Sustainability Lens – Do you have the courage to:

  • ask yourself whether the journey you’re on is fulfilling and sustainable?
  • ask yourself about the long term cost of continuing down your current path?
  • set boundaries? ….and say “No” even when that might disappoint others?
  • pursue your own path, not that prescribed by your family, culture or society?
  • be true to yourself, despite pressure from peers or your boss to do otherwise?
  • be objective about which of your life roles or relationships are regularly draining?
  • tackle the conversations needed to make your life more fulfilling and more sustainable?

So you have lots and lots of chances in everyday life to exercise your courage muscles. Do you notice when you do exercise them and when you choose not to? And do you sometimes notice the results of that?

In next week’s blog we’ll explore some big enemies of everyday courage.