Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Defining Character: Courage

Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

My first post in this series was going to be “Trust”. But life throws you curve balls and today I discovered something in myself that I didn’t even have on the list. Courage. It is probably one of the qualities I need to work on and develop more, but I saw it today. It is there.

My work life is very frustrating. The marketing function at my work was broken before I got there. The department’s interactions and functionality is strained due to a lack of leadership and direction. I have only been in the position for 7 months and it has been a very HARD 7 months. I still want to find a way out of this situation, but that doesn’t mean I am going to sit back and be walked all over.

The situation came to a head today. I was discussing a broken process with my boss and one of my co-workers. Up until this point I have tried my usual route “kill ‘em with kindness”. But with this one individual, that just wasn’t working. I found the courage to stand my ground and demand a clear answer and point out the problem instead of skirting around it.

It wasn’t what she wanted to hear and she walked away from the conversation instead of facing the issue and compromising to find the answer. But it felt so good. I had the courage to stand up for what I thought was right! I had the courage to face a difficult and uncomfortable situation. It felt great.

I need to develop this courage more. I am normally more like the cowardly lion than wonder woman, but the cowardice doesn’t feel good. Bravery feels great. Once you get over that fear and stand up for who you are and what you believe, it feels great.

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s facing up to it”

Maria Shriver said on Oprah last week “You are the leader you have been waiting for.” I hope I have the courage and strength to realize this and stand up and be heard.

Here’s my action plan for developing more courage:

1.Do what I believe is right- In business you are faced with this challenge everyday. Marketing has always been the sales driver in an organization, so my job is to make the company more money. And money produces greed. And greed can make you compromise your morals. So I am constantly being challenged to walk a fine line. It can be tempting to cheat. But your gut knows when something is wrong. I need to take a stand when my gut tells me something is wrong.
2.Take more risks- If you fall, you fall, but don’t jump just because you are afraid. Just try to find out as much as you can about where you are jumping and then just do it. Life is not easy and sometimes I need to force myself out of my comfort zone more.
3.Admitting Mistakes- No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and it is going to happen to me. Your natural reaction is to get defensive or make excuses, but this helps nothing. Be honest with yourself and everyone else when you mess up. It builds trust and solves problems more quickly. It’s not easy, but I am going to always try to recognize and admit when I am wrong.

I REALLY need to work on this in my personal life. But since it seems to come out more at work, that is where I am going to start.

What do you think? Any other tips for developing courage?


Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

My tip for developing courage is to follow your example! I saw you stand your ground today and it was awesome! Rock on.

Steph said...

My tip for courage is confidence. When you research and know your grounds...stand them!

Sugarland: Stand Back Up..."So, go ahead to take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
You might win this round but you cant keep me down,

'Cause I'll stand back up,
And you'll know just the moment when ive had enough,
Sometimes im afraid and I dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up"

ÄsK AliCë said...

Kudos to you for standing up for yourself, I worked with a woman like that and it was awful.

I hate confrontation but I always make myself tell someone if they do something that bothers me (in a nice way hopefully).

It feels good to be open and honest, as uncomfortable as it makes you feel - that's my tip for courage ;>