Saturday, December 02, 2006

Courage and Showing Up

"Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?" - Marian Wright Edelman

Courage, also known as fortitude, is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. It can be divided into "physical courage," when faced with physical pain, hardship, and threat of death - and moral courage - in the face of shame, scandal, and discouragement (source: Wikipedia).

The Catholic Church says that courage is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues. "Cardinal" is considered to be a "pivotal" virtue because to possess courage, one must must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty.

The precise view of what constitutes courage varies among cultures. It also varies among individuals, particularly from different altitudes, or structure perspectives. I'm wondering if a lack of fear in a situation that would normally generate it, while present at all altitudes, might be more prevalent at second tier? How much of that is actual courage and how much is developmental, where fear drops away?

Some hold that courage requires one to have fear and then overcome it.

One of my own fears revolved around letting go of SeattleIntegral: not only giving up my role as the pivotal force driving it, but actually encouraging others to step up and take over the reins, thereby giving up what some might consider "my power."

I didn't, and don't, see it that way. I was more powerful by giving up my power. I was able to make a larger contribution to the big picture by stepping back and allowing others to develop, and by nurturing that development. It's the equivalent of a parent stepping back and allowing a child to mature, an act that must happen so the child can become an adult. It's very difficult to do, and a courageous act in and of itself.

One of the problems I see in other organizations is that leaders who hold the power are unwilling to step aside to allow others to also develop into leaders. These power leaders, well intentioned as they may be, actually stand in the way of the healthy development of the organizations.

As leaders, we must have the courage to step aside when the time is right.

Illustration by Gary Kelley


Simon in Syd said...

Hi Gary,
Agreed mate!

...and the wisdom to see a time as right. :-)


Tom Mull said...


Laura said...

I belong to a partial organization where these sentiments of server/leadership are practiced. Good Job!
I will be in Seattle 12/20 through 12/24. I wonder if any integral events might be taking place during that time? I am a faitful lurker of the seattleintegral from Sacramento, Ca. Thanks. Laura

Gary Stamper said...

Hi Laura,

Your email bounced back on me so, I'm having to respond here. Good to hear from you. Sorry to say there are no events planned for that time, but perhaps we could get together while you're here if we can arrange our schedules?

Best regards,