Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded. — Anita Roddick
Even in today’s workforce, far too many women face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to their success. Repeatedly running up against the same barriers, they find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs or unfulfilling careers. What is required is that you take time to recognize the mask of “scripts” that have multiplied over time to define and obscure your spirit’s identity. Then, with this reflection, you realize how the scripts have limited an honest and clear vision of who you really are: not a character in a B-movie created from scripts but someone capable of real introspection.
If you respond to obstacles from the lower levels of courage consciousness, you invariably get stuck. Even if you manage to get “unstuck,” you will find yourself repeating the same patterns and getting stuck at the same obstacles (like a bad version of the movie Groundhog Day) until you respond from a higher level of courage consciousness. Once you begin to recognize the B-movie script for the obstacle that it is, the inner power of personal courage enables you to be able to grasp significant opportunities in the workplace and in life. Simply put, getting unstuck and staying unstuck requires the spirit of courage. Regardless of your unique circumstances, courage elevates your consciousness into the realm of truth, enabling you to advance your life’s purpose.
1. Step Up!
A woman who noticed that a high-ranking position would soon be vacated said, “I thought about it and thought about it. So I did the somewhat brazen thing and went over and asked, “Can I have Vicki’s job?” What’s wrong with asking, and why is it “brazen” to ask? Why would this be viewed as a courage obstacle called intimidation? If you’re too intimidated to ask, you don’t get the opportunity to step up! Perceiving her action as brazen versus courageous exemplifies a feminine need to rework her inner script. Do you see yourself as brazen, bold, brash, blatant or forward at work? Or are you a courageous woman overcoming invisibility to achieve success intertwined with happiness in your job? Courageously forthright action does not undermine a woman’s femininity. It does, however, reveal a woman’s willingness to “showcase her talents” (one of 12 courage actions).
2. The Desire to Be Perfect
Are you able to recognize the difference between your potential and your experience? For example, if you move to another division, can you gain experience, develop new skills and broaden your business horizons? If so, try not to match your style or skills to fit a “perfect” checklist. Best not to be overwhelmed by perfection, but instead apply candor ( one of twelve cousins to courage) to express your expectations and cultivate new abilities. Like any other ability, we all have courage to varying degrees, one size does not fit all, but to exercise it requires living in conscious choice. Are you more inclined toward caution to keep a “perfect” image? Does a script in your head perpetuate a fear that you won’t perform well enough or you are not “fully” qualified for the job? Rather than strive for perfection, feminine courage actions such as work without regrets, showcase your talents and reveal your vulnerability free you! Do you have the courageous will to try it?
3. Respond to First Red Flags
First red flag warnings are everywhere. A woman I will call Deb was preparing to speak at a conference when she got a big red flag in the form of a disturbing email from the association’s education director. Meant for a staff member, the email was filled with sniping remarks about her! Believing she had a good relationship with the client, Deb was surprised by the unprofessional comments. Deb surmised that a rude conversation had taken place between the two co-workers at her expense. “Why would I want to speak at a conference when I’m being undermined behind the scene?” Deb asked. With courage, she replied to the director’s email: “Did I miss a cue or is something wrong?”
The director quickly discounted the errant email by writing: “That email was one that people tell stories about in business magazines… It was meant for…” Deb wanted to forget the incident but struggled for weeks with the nagging “first red flag” warning. In business for over ten years, she had learned the hard way that one red flag usually follows another, indicating a situation in danger of spiraling out of control. With the insight of her own past mistakes, Deb hoped she would be wrong but grew increasingly concerned. Needless to say, she was not surprised when her presentation did not go well, and she now has a stronger resolve to honor the first red flag. Ultimately, Deb learned a hard lesson: respond directly to the ambiguity represented by that first red flag warning by implementing a courage action called “confront uncomfortable truths.”
The concepts of courage-centered living are deceptively simple. The mind (ego) will want to undermine them. After all, how could something so easy work? We become courageous by being courageous. It’s that simple! All you have to do is decide whether this forgotten virtue is worth learning and claiming in your life. Leadership qualities are defined by courage, such as asking for the tough project or staying focused on the results. What would motivate you to explore where this ancient virtue fits into your work life?
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