Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Courage – The Lost Virtue

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 5, 2011

Here is a tidbit on courage. Enjoy. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

Courage is the choice to get involved in defending one’s highest held principles, even when one’s personal interest isn’t at stake. Gus Lee, author of the inspiring book, Courage, wrote, “But courage doesn’t depend on practical outcomes, risk versus gains analysis, or collateral impact on others – that’s pragmatism.  Pragmatism is the application of practicality, utility and consequences to decision making.”  Courage, on the other hand, is principle based, causing a courageous leader to sacrifice personal benefits in order to uphold the greater principle on the line.  In fact, Winston Churchill, the legendary English Prime Minster who stood up to Hitler, said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”  Lee writes, “Courage is addressing wrongs in the face of fear, regardless of consequences, of risk to self, or of potential practical gains. That’s why everyone practices pragmatism and risk balancing. . . Courageous leadership is about utilizing all of our brains, character and spirit to advocate principles regardless of the odds, heedless of fear, apart from collateral impact, and independent of personal career needs.”  Les Csorba, in his book, Trust, concurs, writing, “When we follow leaders without a moral compass interested in only results, get ready for the ditch. The ditch into which modern leadership has fallen is the pit of pragmatism.”   Many confuse compromise and pragmatism, but Stephen L. Carter, Yale Law School professor, discerns the key difference, “Compromises that advance high principles are acceptable; those that do not advance high principles are not.”  Pragmatism is compromising our principles for the short term personal advancements, but noble compromises entail sacrifice of personal gains to advance the highest of principles.  Lee writes that, “Courage is manifested in courageous communication, courageous leadership, courageous problem-solving, and in resolving high-end conflicts.”   Sadly, most people will do anything except address the underlying issues, avoiding the perceived conflict because they suffer from a lack of courage, thus lack character to produce consistent leadership results.  Simply put, without practicing courageous actions in communication, leadership and problem solving, one cannot be a successful leader.  David, without the courage to face Goliath, would still be known as a shepherd of sheep, instead of the King of Israel.  In the same way, people, without the courage to confront their Goliath’s, will not achieve leadership mastery.  Courage, in today’s pragmatic world, is a lost virtue that must be re-birthed in order for character based leadership to thrive again.

One Response to “Courage – The Lost Virtue”

  1. wildtarg said

    Great insights, Orrin. Many thanks.

    I have always maintained that the act of David slaying Goliath had little to do with marksmanship, and a lot to do with courage and character. It was, if you like, a miracle of courage, because David already had proven skills in defending his sheep, as the account states. Anyone can become a good shot with practice and discipline; it takes courage, focus, and self-mastery to be a good shot under pressure and duress.

    Keep going, we’re with you…

    Gabriel Weeden

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