Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the commitment to overcome it. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid; it means you battle against your fear and confront it. Courage push confronts resist the impulse to shy away from the things that stir up your innermost anxieties. Courage is required and must be a constant. It’s tiny pieces of fear all glued together.
The lives of great Christian leaders teach us that those who follow a God-sized calling need God-sized courage. Abraham left his home to journey to a place he wasn’t even sure existed. Moses overcame his speech impediment to lead the people of Israel to freedom. Joshua faced doubters who feared the promised land was too difficult to conquer. Gideon led an army of only three hundred to defeat an army of thousands.
Daniel and Esther displayed tremendous courage in the face of death. Nehemiah overcame fierce opposition to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days. Jesus faced the cross and triumphed over death. Paul penned parts of the New Testament while nurturing wounds in prison; and nearly every apostle preached the gospel until being martyred.
Here are some helpful tips for building a culture of courage in your organization:
Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product or service or experience should almost be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.
Allow for failure. The road to success is many times put together through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.
Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.
Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.
Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead.