Leadership is doing the next brave thing, regardless of who is willing to do it for you, with you, or in spite of you.
Fear is terrible motivator, is it not?
I mean, fear is manufactured everywhere right now. On the news, in social media, even in conversations among friends and family. Not the standard fears- forgetting to unplug the toaster and burning the house down, or clowns hiding in the sewers ready to massacre, or waking up some morning and not fitting in to any of the clothes in the entire closet. But these new fears are fears that we never imagined. Mask wearing, or not mask wearing; schools opening, or not opening; police forces growing, or disassembling, and the list goes on. We are encountering fears that didn’t exist several months ago. Our country is hurting, and for many women who lead, it’s more important than ever that we exercise bravery in managing the fears from moment to moment. Fear may be a terrible motivator, but let’s use it to get clarity about what we can do, right now, with where we are leading from.
To begin, let’s define bravery. It’s not recklessly running into a burning building to rescue a kitten, or an iPhone. What it actually is, is acting upon a carefully evaluated decision to do the thing that needs to be done. For women, especially, this carefully evaluated decision feels like an instinct or intuition, but it is likely a result of the experiences, observations, and education that you have accumulated over the years. The way that your brain works allows you to make a ‘snap decision’ based on cumulative knowledge. (Neat, right?)
Webster’s Definition of bravery: the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty.
Sometimes bravery involves a great personal cost--of reputation, financial security, personal safety, comfort. Sometimes bravery involves a community cost--of resources, of perception, of something more intangible even. This mental or moral strength does come more naturally to some of us than it does to others. In my experiences in dispositional leadership (read more about that here), I have come to learn that bravery comes as a result of identifying the next brave thing, not all of the things.
Identifying the Next Brave Thing
Establishing clarity about what the next brave thing is may involve developing or initiating a method for tracking and documenting the ultimate goal and working backwards from there. Solving a problem, finding a solution, constructing the plan, and working the plan. Not always easy, but necessary. How do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite.
Doing the Next Brave Thing
Once the establishment of the plan is memorialized, the next step is actually taking the first step. Don’t focus on all the steps, just that first step (or next step). Doing the next brave thing might not be the biggest risk, or the most costly venture. But build momentum in doing the next brave thing, and continue this, step by step. Building the muscle of bravery, mentally and morally, makes it easier to face the big, scary challenges.
The WHY Behind the What
At the end of the day, if the motivation behind the next brave thing isn’t compelling, you’ll never get off the couch...or worse: you’ll resent every step that you take. So, drill down and identify the WHY behind the what, and use that desire to move forward. Inch by inch. Step by step. One brave thing at a time.
Control what you can control, release what you cannot. Do the next brave thing, because it matters. Everything matters.
So, what is the next brave thing that you need to do?
What’s holding you back?
What are the things that you can manage?