“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”C.S. Lewis
On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became the prime minister of Great Britain in a time known as “Britain’s darkest hour.” The former prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, had tried to reason with Adolph Hitler, but he failed. Europe lay devastated before the German Wehrmacht. Nothing could stop the onslaught of the Germans racing across France. At last, in desperation, the British parliament turned to the aging Churchill. Many British people had already resigned themselves to defeat. But, in a series of speeches, Churchill roused the nation. In one of his most famous speeches, he declared,
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”WINSTON CHURCHILL
We know how this story ends. Britain and its Allies stood up to the “fury and might” of the enemy and defeated the Germans.
In an ideal business world, we don’t face great life-and-death crises, as Churchill did. But in this current COVID-19 crisis, I think many, if not all, businesses, are facing a similar situation as Great Britain and as a result, leaders are in a similar situation to Churchill.
As we continue in this current crisis, it is critical leaders dare to make the most difficult decisions in their lifetime. Until Britain faced its greatest crisis, its citizens did not feel the need for Churchill. But when they had nowhere else to turn, they finally placed their hope in him. Occupying a corner office does not take courage. But facing the COVID-19 crisis requires every ounce of a leader’s courage. The problem is many in leadership positions suffer from an acute absence of courage. A successful leader’s tenacity to tackle their most significant issues must include courage.
Churchill said it best;
Never let a good crisis go to waste.”WINSTON CHURCHILL
I recently completed a John Maxwell course on courage and identified 4 of the most significant benefits of having courage. John had several benefits he listed, but I feel these four benefits will encourage you to build your courage.
COURAGE IS FEAR
Writing this article put me in a position to define the word courage. In my search for a distinct, yet reality-based definition, I found a quote from Nelson Mandela that explains it best:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”NELSON MANDELA
In other words, courage is not an emotion (like fear); it’s a practice—an act of will. Courage is what we demonstrate when we feel scared about taking bold action but do it anyway.
As with my Peloton bike workouts, the more I practice courage in the face of fear, the stronger I become, which will prepare for even bigger crisis down the road. Courage is crucial to our leadership because the more courage we show courage, the more influence we have.
COURAGE ENABLES YOU TO MAXIMIZE THE POTENTIAL IN YOU AND OTHERS
Leadership requires courage. You cannot lead unless you find a way of developing and generating courage in yourself and then “encouraging” others.
COURAGE LETS YOU BE HEARD
William Brown said, “People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” When people increase their courage, others are more willing to listen and act.
COURAGE PROPELS YOU TO REINVENT YOURSELF AS OFTEN AS NEEDED
You have the power to leave the familiar In a time of crisis, Leadership is not for the fearful, it requires courage.
The best words to sum up my intent is through the words of Thomas Edison’s during his last public message delivered during the depths of the Great Depression:
Be courageous! I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!”THOMAS EDISON