Courage in Business – A Good Thing

Posted by & filed under Reflection.


I am finding that without courage there is no movement. Without courage we cannot bring thought leadership, we cannot break paradigms, grow, change and challenge the status quo. We choose the easy path. Drucker said: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision”.

When reflecting on the lives of many of our clients, I see that that it is that dash of courage which is the magical ingredient that contributes to organizational success.  Even if that courageous decision is not right, there are always major learning’s to be captured – and those learning’s can help the organization to (re)focus, (re)energize and ultimately (re)claim success.  Courage therefore does not only include panache, decisiveness and grace under fire but also a degree of empathy and personal humility and it is that which helps us to admit and address our errors.

Particularly right now, when change is all around, I see many of us grabbing hold of security and trying to stick to the comfortable, wait for the storm to pass to survive. I hate to burst the bubble but…

Security is a myth.  It doesn’t exist.

 Avoiding risk is no safer in the long run than facing it.  In addition, many organizations promote risk taking, but only if the outcome is safe -“We need to innovate, but we cannot fail”.  If we always try to make things perfect, and ensure everything that we do is right, we will most probably not accomplish much.  Over-thinking and lacking courage to go without all data may cause us to miss opportunities and finally settle with mediocre results.

Yet it is important to remain real – being courageous in business does not mean lacking fear.

I am very afraid of the fearless leaders. There  is a reason why Aquinas ranked our virtues as follows:

1) Prudence

2) Justice

3) Courage.

Part of his justification for this hierarchy is that courage without justice and prudence is “an occasion of injustice, since the stronger a man is the more ready is he to oppress the weaker”.

In modern terms we need to identify and distinguish the courage to take the business in a certain direction, whilst also considering the systems and context in which we operate.

To have courage is to be able to face our fears. It is  how we find  a way to overcome, to persevere and stand behind the idea in a grounded manner after having thought through the implications of success and failure. Not because we seek security but because we are prudent in moving the business forward.

Ultimately, I am convinced that the great, courageous ones amongst us have always encountered opposition from more mediocre minds.  As Einstein said:

The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”


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