I love and am constantly inspired by the honesty of the participants within our program experiences. They're always reminding us why courage is so important within our individual and shared journeys of potential. As the quote below so eloquently shares, if we are to practice the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of leadership (honesty, kindness, love, acceptance, compassion, etc.), then courage will definitely play a pivotal role. This is especially true if we're interested in really bringing leadership to life, embodying it within our daily thoughts, words and actions.
"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." - Maya Angelou
Honesty involves the yin and the yang though. How often can we get caught up in only wanting to explore the positive side of something? This is why we purposefully embrace, get playful with and practice a variety of ways we can navigate the challenges that leadership presents within the experiences we facilitate. We want to be honest about the full spectrum of what's involved in making a difference. Without taking appropriate risks and then learning from the successes and failures that will inevitably happen we're not going to be able to most effectively be the change we wish to see.
"If you want to make everybody happy, don't be a leader. Sell ice cream." - Steve Jobs
It's also why a particular question we pose and the responses we get during a program day always open up such interesting discussions (What is the most challenging part of leadership?). The other week a Year 6 boy's answer to this really showed his depth of understanding and the courage associated with purposefully choosing to lead. He came up to me during the reflection and said, 'Can I tell you what I wrote for that one?', pointing at the piece of butchers paper where the question was written. With wisdom he then shared, 'That some of the decisions that we'll have to make as leaders won't make everyone happy'. Absolutely I thought as I processed what he'd said, before we opened up a conversation around his thoughts.
“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” – Stephen Covey
As leaders we're all about creating ripples. Some of the choices we'll make though will challenge, confront, take out of their comfort zone, etc. others within our spheres of influence. As leaders we're mindful of not intentionally using our thoughts, words and actions to negatively impact these people. Instead we're prepared to stay aligned for long enough to navigate our own and others feelings of uncomfortableness and vulnerability because we've taken the time to work out what's most important (individual and shared values). It's not easy, but it's how we really bring about change.
“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.” – Chinese Proverb
A Year 6 girls honest response last week really got to me as well. She said, 'But how will we know it's the right way?' It was another one of those deep breath moments, the juiciness and depth that I love when facilitating. It's only through courageous practice that we'll work that out though. We're all very human and will doubt, second guess and question right throughout our lives. But as leaders we'll also have the courage to consistently practice what's most important (individual and shared values), knowing that our thoughts, words and actions matter, as we respond within the challenges that we'll navigate. It's definitely a journey, not a destination.
“… What I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.” – Shauna Niequist