Leadership Requires Inner Courage

Wake Your Courage

When I was nine years old I had lofty goals. I wanted more than anything to become CEO. I realized I was in for the long haul. I knew it would take work and I was ready to put on the gloves and boots and go to work. At that time, I just didn’t realize it was going to be literally.

After my Navy term I took a few interim jobs, “between successes” as is said. Eventually, I landed a job in the rising healthcare industry. This was not easy to land. I was proud to work in the city. I was on the 12th floor and I could see the city from my window below. I was moving up and on my way to the top.

Gradually politics began to emerge. I began to see a pattern. It wasn’t anything unusual, just average politics of any large organization. When I looked honestly though, I began to see the long road ahead of me. I took note of skills that I hadn’t yet learned. Nevertheless, blinding myself to the immediate surroundings, I forged ahead fearlessly. I forged ahead while shaking and moving. I thought I knew where I wanted to go (the top) and I was going to do anything to get there.

After several months of churning, a surprising event occurred. It was an offer from a friend. In his phone call, he told me he had a job for me. He said he knew I would love it. Knowing he was keenly aware of my experience, it piqued my interest.

This conversation took a turn however, when I realized it was a job in construction. I gasped. I was shocked. Why would I take a job in construction? This was absurd. “Why should I even entertain this notion?” I thought. I laughed at him. I grew up with zero exposure to tools. He knew I had no construction skills. At the time, I thought, “Why should I leave this cushy job in my cushy chair in the big city?” For what, to work outside? Especially in an industry I knew nothing about? But my friend persisted. He insisted. He kept saying, “I know you will love it.” and he kept insisting that despite the words I was sharing, it was the job for me.

After much of his persuasion. I did agree to test it. I agreed to work one day, the following Saturday. It was just to appease him. I thought, “Once he sees my lack of skills, he’ll laugh at me and won’t bring it up again.” To me, this was less painful than disappointing him. “Fine with me.”, I said.

This is not at all what happened. I went to test the job that day and for the next fourteen years recreation was my industry. Since that day I have built stadiums all over the country. Some small as in parks and some large as in professional football. I have built tennis and basketball courts. I’ve built arenas for rodeos. I’ve built structures for parents to watch baseball and friends to watch soccer players. I’ve built hundreds of parks for children and even a few parks for dogs. What happened that day, was that, my friend guided me to see something that I hadn’t yet seen. He guided me through my blind spots and to my vision. He guided me to many future achievements.

It took courage to make a decision that day and many days thereafter. I knew this work would take deliberate practice. I knew it would take patience and persistence. But that day, I chose to be honest with myself and also made a commitment to learn something new. I took pause that day and strategically readjusted in order to grow within my strengths. I chose not to force a situation for which I wasn’t yet ready. I stopped to look ahead and be honest about my current surroundings. Making these types of decisions with honesty takes inner courage.

By reflecting, I was able to face reality. I had taken a position for which I wasn’t ready. The truth was, I knew it and everyone around me knew it. It was difficult to own but once honest with myself, I was able to avoid being the unknowing turkey. I could feel the signs. I could sense what was occurring around me. Could I have stuck with it? Sure, but why fight the lessons life was providing me? Why go against the grain? Life provided a new opportunity. I just had to listen. The key was, I had paused to read the signs. I had picked up the lessons. Now it was time to prove I had learned them. It was time to adjust.

On that day, I became aware of something. I am an achiever. I started to believe that I can achieve anything I can envision. I began to believe, that, no matter my background or experience, If I can see it, I can achieve it. Not as in some book that people believe to be in far off lands. Not via audio tape or motivational seminar but in reality.

Sure those things help. They lay the groundwork for belief. I had already done that work. On that day, I moved from external belief to internal belief. I transformed it from, out there somewhere, to a belief in here, inside. Yes, It took some coaxing. Yes, it took being honest and it took a little help from a friend. It took inner thought, self talk and courage. However, once I took that step, I was able to become an achiever. You’re an achiever too. Courage is the child of belief and confidence. Its available to all of us.

Had I not had the courage to explore my friends suggestion, I would’ve taken a different path. I’m convinced it would have been the wrong path. I chose instead to follow my dream. In there, is where my strengths laid dormant. In there, is where my passions were eventually realized.

Do you have a hard decision to make? Decide on reflection. Decide on ownership. Choose to have the courage to take appropriate action. Delay is not resolution. Will you stay for an undefined amount of time waiting? Will you wait for opportunity? Who will this help? Is it wise? What advice would you offer a friend? Are you listening to what others are saying? These are good questions. Take a moment right now. Decide what needs done and go do it. It’s that simple. Have the courage to fly. Don’t worry about having all the information or about confidence. It will appear when it’s required. Life doesn’t happen to us. Life’s what we make it.

Courage on the other hand is something we have to muster. It’s not something handed to us. It’s not something someone else can wake. It’s up to us. Yes, it sometimes sleeps inside us. Yes, it sometimes takes others to help us recognize it. But inside is where we reach. “All the keys are in there. Unlock the door from the inside”. For courage, at times, we must reach deep inside to wake it. Yes, we have to do the work. Yes, we have to analyze our situation and set goals. Yes, we have to believe. And yes, it’s worth it.

Courage comes from reflection. We have to draw the vision and discover what “can be”. This is what wakes courage. It’s our passions. This is what creates opportunity. It’s our beliefs. This is what opens doors. It’s our decisions. This is what realizes dreams. It’s our brilliance. This is what ignites brilliance. It’s our courage! Wake your courage!

Don’t wait to have a breakthrough! Today, go get em!

Live lightly – Shine brightly

B. A. Milford


10 thoughts on “Leadership Requires Inner Courage”

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