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Several years ago, I participated in an intense international
leadership program. We each were asked to let the group help us
determine the characteristics we operated under when we were at our
best, and our operating characteristics when things didn’t work out
well. The exercise was similar to group therapy. We all felt a bit
vulnerable and insecure opening up to a group of strangers, but the
benefits have been long lasting.
The group labeled my
authentic self as ‘courage to care’ when I was operating at my best.
When I was ‘courage to care’ my leadership shined and my team was
motivated. They also labeled the self that was in operation when
things didn’t go well as ‘the lawyer’. Sharing that when I focused
on the facts and figures to persuade others, like a lawyer, it
didn’t work out as well. I took the input, and focused on calling
up my ‘courage to care’ self as often as possible.
Now as I
look back on this experience, it carries new meaning. When we
operate from our mind instead of our heart and soul, we are never at
our best. It takes courage to operate from the vantage point of
your heart and soul. Why? This vantage point often leads us to take
the next step in our growth. It encourages us to try something
different, to step out of the norm that we have established for
ourselves, even possibly to be different from the mainstream
expectations around us.
That’s why courage is an essential
attribute for those on the Spiritual Path. It has been this way for
generations, but today the nuances are different. Today it is about
having the courage to face our fears and doubts, to behave
differently than the friends we grew up with, and to follow our own
This courage is incredibly important for each of
us to muster up. Why? We live in a world where fear predominates,
motivates, and controls most everyone’s thoughts, behaviors, and
choices. If this continues, the build up of negativity within all
humans and our planet earth, can become acute, and our fear response
could become more and more automatic.
It is critical for each
of us to break from this overall direction, to help bring about
change. How? Have the courage to care enough about yourself to think
differently and to live your life differently - becoming leadership
in action. When we demonstrate these leadership qualities it has a
huge impact, inspiring others to have the courage to do the same.
Look to Gandhi for inspiration: He had the moral courage to do
what was right. He carefully chose how to think and live his life.
The way in which Gandhi chose to respond to injustices that were
inflicted upon him showed the upmost courage. The basis of moral
courage comes from the recognition of the intrinsic good within
one’s self. The more you are in touch with your own good, the more
courage you will have.
It is interesting that Gandhi often
chose to respond to injustices inflicted upon him by simply not
cooperating. This model is also exemplified by Jesus’ teaching of
turning the other cheek.
When you persistently directly
challenge and try to change another, their response is one of
resistance. It is an energetic principle in the laws of physics:
persistence=resistance. So, when you choose to make a difference
through not fighting back, and not through persuading (a la me as
‘the lawyer’), an opening occurs for something different to happen!
The courage to give-up the familiar and take on new
challenges is what we are continuously called to do as we move
through our spiritual journey. It takes courage to surrender,
courage to trust, courage to be unattached to outcomes, courage to
rise above conflicts, courage to not engage in social conversations
that are full of judgments, courage to move to a new area to follow
a calling, and courage to end long-term friendships that are no
Each step on your path calls upon your
courage to commit to absolute values and a universal code of
conduct. This includes committing with the thoughts you think and
the emotions you hold.
When you choose the courage to grow
and evolve, you become a leader in our own life. The positive side
effects of this choice will be felt with your interactions others
and our planet. Your courage will serve as a source of inspiration,
helping those around you as well. It was courage that Jesus and
Gandhi demonstrated through how they chose to live their life, and
it is still inspiring us today.
Although your actions may
not have the wide reaching effects of Jesus or Gandhi, the positive
effects of your choices are the same. Simply learning to focus on
leading your own life differently can have a huge impact.
Likely, you never thought about being a leader through how you live
your life, but it is an amazing experience. When you have the
courage to make a difference in your own life, when you care enough
about yourself to give up the familiar and strive for new summits in
how you think and behave, and when you are committed to the journey
- you will be leadership in action. Living a courageous life is a
journey of decisions each day. Make the decision that you want to
grow as a person, and welcome courage into your life.
Key Principles Related to Courage:
- commit to
- commit to the journey
- commit to training
- commit to reducing attachments
- commit to
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