Although there are many possible technical excuses for failure, it is a lack of what I call quiet courage that often precedes a downfall.
What is quiet courage? Quiet courage is unadorned action and is the opposite of procrastination. Quiet courage resides deep inside and causes one to buck up to do what needs to be done whether one wants to or not. Founded on internal fortitude, it is made real by self-discipline.
Yes, for certain it’s there inside you, but sometimes it might go into hiding.
Understanding the quiet courage concept is, no surprise, just a matter of digging a little deeper. Here are some demonstrations of quiet courage:
- As a parent, facing the misbehaving child in the evening with the same fairness and respect that was given to the child in the morning when the parent was rested and fresh.
- Going to work on a day when one just doesn’t want to go to work.
- Facing up to a dead-end situation and taking action to address it once and for all.
- Exercising on a regular basis.
- Taking on a long-term, frustrating project and finding it more draining than expected, but carrying on to finish anyway.
- Walking away from an argument with someone who is unreasonable.
- Living up to an agreement when it is more convenient to make excuses not to.
- Taking extra time to train an employee when the day is busy.
- Making a necessary organizational change when sitting still would be more acceptable to everyone else around you.
- You knew this was coming: taking the time to create a Strategic Objective and a set of General Operating Principles, not to mention starting to put together a collection of Working Procedures.
The quiet-courage scenarios that escape notice are in contrast to the occasional overt gallant acts that earn instant recognition, such as challenging the boss with a delicate subject, approaching a neighbor with a legitimate but potentially inflammatory complaint, or removing the delinquent young adult from the house.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of overt courageous acts. The more, the better. But never underestimate the damage caused by timorous avoidance.
Steady doses of quiet courage, combined with your system-improvement strategy, will take you where you want to go.
Photo Credits: Juan Carlos Serrano