What are you afraid of as a leader?


Is it holding you back from moving forward?

Photo by Joe Beck on Unsplash

The Bushidō code is a combination of 8 different core virtues that directed the samurai on how to live. I have researched these virtues and have adopted and blended them into the context of the time we are now living. I have also discovered that focusing on these 8 virtues is a pathway to finding Work: Life Harmony for ourselves and living a life with more overall satisfaction.

I will be writing 8 different articles, one for each virtue: Justice, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Loyalty, & Self-Control. This is Article #2, Courage.


Leadership can be, at times, scary. There are decisions to make multiple times per day.

  • What if the wrong decision is made?
  • Do we stop production because of a slight issue with one of our parts that is more cosmetic than anything else?
  • Is it the right decision to call everyone back to the office rather than having everyone work from home?
  • Do we expand our team to deal with the influx of orders or do we try to manage with the team we have?
  • If I make the wrong decision am I going to be thought of as a failure?

There are many different scenarios that present themselves on a regular basis. Our teams look up to leadership to make those decisions with everyone’s best interest in mind.

I found a quote, by Jay Abraham

“People are silently begging to be led, and the only caveat is they want to be led by someone they unquestionably feel has their best interests primarily at heart.”

This quote has a lot of truth packed into it. If I was honest with myself, I appreciate the moments when I can look to my leaders and feel like the decisions they are making aren’t being made in a vacuum. They are considering the implications of action or inaction and acting accordingly.

But behaving in this way requires Courage on the part of the leader.

What is Courage?

Courage is an important trait that is often overlooked in the process of finding our purpose. If you were to interview any successful person, they will tell you that the path to their success required them to have Courage.

Being able to do new things, push to new heights, and persevere when it seems bleak, requires Courage. Going through failure and a lot of unknown obstacles or outcomes requires something deep inside you. Likely you have it, you just may not know it.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

This isn’t something you can necessarily teach directly. But, you can set the stage for others to practice this by setting an example. But if you are in leadership who can you look to for an example?

Leadership can be a lonely role to serve in

You’ve likely heard the adage, “It is lonely at the top.” At times, I think this is a true statement. But, I’ve found that loneliness can be something that we create for ourselves because we are reluctant to reach out for help from our peers.

Reaching out to ask for help from others will require us to have Courage and admit we may not know the answer to something or what decision to make. That doesn’t make us any less of a person or a weak leader it just means we don’t know the answer.

It takes Courage to want to learn new things, to say things that need to be said, or to stand up for something you believe in. We all have a fear of failing.

This explains why learning new things can be mentally difficult. With practice, we can get better. Remember that the process of learning is exactly that, a process.

We all have different fears that we live with

Maybe you’re reading this thinking that you don’t have a fear of failing, maybe you have a different fear. The remedy is going to be the same no matter what fear you have. The path forward through fear, I have found, is with Acceptance and Resiliency.

Pulling back when you are realizing that fear is starting to take control is the last thing to do. Facing my fears and building my courage have shown me that I don’t have anything to fear at all. So, I have been leaning toward learning more about Acceptance and Resilience.

Acceptance of a situation and circumstance for what it is has been a valuable skill for me to learn. When I realized that I had the choice to assign a positive or negative label to those events, it fundamentally changed how I moved through the world.

No longer was I crippled by the thought of “What if this idea flops?”, because the outcome just is what it is. I now have the power to decide what to do with the information that I have learned. The key word there is learned. When I shifted my thinking to this, my inclination is now all about learning.

Whatever outcome I get, I now ask myself, “What have I learned from this?” Approaching situations and circumstances with a learning mindset sets me up for not attaching positive or negative labels to events before they happen. I can take the learning and decide, “Do I want to continue doing this because the outcome is favorable?”, or “Do I want to stop because it isn’t moving me in the direction I want to go?”

Finding the intrinsic motivation to step up and stand up when faced with fear is something you have to figure out on your own. Simon Sinek refers to this as “Finding Your Why.” When you have a clear understanding of why you are doing something, the courage will be there to face your fears.

If you’d like to learn more about Courage or the other 7 virtues of the Bushidō code check out my book Always Improving: Lessons from the samurai.

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