A critical shift in behavior occurs when a person develops a high level of courage consciousness. Why?
Courage consciousness not only represents the crucial first step into an empowering, truth-based existence, it also opens the door to higher levels of consciousness and personal empowerment characterized by humility, grace, serenity, moderation and love.
When we respond to problems from the lower levels of consciousness—characterized by blame, anger, apathy, etc.—we invariably fail to address life situations in a manner that achieves a positive outcome. Even if we manage to face our problems, we find ourselves repeating the same patterns and stalling at the same obstacles (like a bad version of the movie Groundhog Day) until we respond from a higher level of consciousness.
Simply put, eliminating this form of StuckThinking™ requires the inspiration of “heart and spirit” courage. Regardless of your unique circumstances, personal courage elevates your consciousness into the realm of truth, enabling you to advance your life’s work.
Contemplate these questions:
- How do you confront problems at work?
- How frequently do you step out of your comfort zone?
- Do you have the backbone for inviting change?
- When was the last time you offered a new idea?
- How engaged are you at work? (One hundred percent? Eighty percent?)
Answering these questions is your first step toward the courage consciousness that empowers you to conquer the unique set of challenges on your career path!
Overcoming Obstacles to Courage
To apply courage to the obstacles that hold you back on the job (like blame or apathy) requires self-realization. Self-realization, which is very different from self-help, is nurtured in reflection and contemplation. You cannot slip sweetly into your true Self by attending a two-day conference. While a conference may be a good start, it will not change the habitual thought patterns, behaviors and attitudes that keep us stuck in dead-end jobs or unfulfilling careers. Wherever your habit of attention goes, your energy follows.
In FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond, I wrote that this shift requires you to sharpen your intention and allow the power of your innate, heart-and-spirit courage to shape your experiences at work. Sanctioned by courage, you will not only obliterate the obstacles to your success, you will manifest the wholeness, happiness and self-confidence of courage-centered leadership.
Courage-centered leaders achieve unexpected results at work and in their lives because they consistently choose to illuminate this forgotten virtue. Manifesting this virtue creates a strong, virtuous organization because each person holds him or herself accountable for fulfilling the roles necessary to achieve the desired results. When this happens, doors open!
When Will that Door Open?
Recall and list some of the times you found yourself stuck, wondering where and when the next door would open. My clients have shared that most of their growth in courage consciousness comes during times when they feel alone (not lonely). Reflecting, reassessing your goals, delving deeper into your values—this is when many of us discover our true Self.
How might you identify this process? Reflect on a situation at work that causes tension (or worse) in your life. As you examine the situation, begin to notice your “default” courage settings. Then,
- suspend assumptions,
- detach from opinions and certainty about what you think is true,
- stay in the question rather than having the answer and
- take responsibility for your courage consciousness development.
On the path that you design to manifest your vision of success, your courage consciousness expands and reflects who you are. Take just a few minutes to reflect on the choices you make, for unconscious choices tend to keep you in a state of self-neglect, a condition dominated by falsehood, deception and illusions. Rest assured, self-actualization requires deep and concentrated efforts to stop and reflect. As you recognize your unconscious choices, the ego’s deceptions are revealed, empowering you to move into a more honest, courageous level of consciousness.
Courage-based consciousness transformation may mean that things at work get worse before they get better. At times, you may feel like you are a coward before you recognize courage consciousness and put it into practice. As renowned psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci observes in his book Inevitable Grace, Mahatma Gandhi “viewed courage as an essential vitamin for each individual’s spiritual growth—in contrast to cowardice, which reduces a person’s sense of value and self-respect. Without courage, love and the search for truth are impossible.”
Courage is a joyful essence that supports your true Self, thereby empowering you to embrace new dilemmas, overcome reluctance and rise above ambivalence. In other words, the course of your work life is up to you, even during times of uncertainty. Your innate motivation provides a direct reflection of your level of courage consciousness. As you begin to embrace the truths revealed by courage consciousness, remember: overcoming obstacles requires intention.
I have written about many courageous leaders throughout history who display a high, integral level of courage consciousness such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Vivian T. Thomas and Elizabeth Fry. Their courage consciousness helped guide many onto their own courageous paths. And just as these people encouraged others to claim their courage, your ability to overcome obstacles can encourage the people around you. Therapist Shane Holst believes this type of encouragement is invaluable in helping people claim their courage and overcome inertia (a major obstacle to courage). “I believe that, when I encourage another, I wish to fill the other with courage, and my courage is demonstrated. Even though I encourage another who may outshine me, I still persist and commit altruistically to the other. Indeed, I celebrate the achievements of another regardless of me, my ego, my needs—that is deep courage, deep integrity, deep truth and bona fide humility and wisdom.” Simply by giving ourselves permission to claim our personal courage, we encourage those around us, making courage contagious and transforming the workplace.
What Defines Personal Courage?
Personal courage is the way of one’s heart. It is a blending of heart and essence combined with the commitment to hold ourselves completely accountable for our actions. Applying courage consciousness, we must recognize that our spirit is the author of our fate.
As your courage consciousness matures at work, you will notice huge shifts in your perspective about fear, blame and how to achieve fulfillment in your work life, validating the choice of courage consciousness over attachments that trigger life’s emotional dramas.
Fear seems more powerful in times of doubt, tempting us to resort to blame as a defense mechanism, but as you develop a courageous mindset, you become more cognizant of the mental chatter that triggers your fears and the subtle cascades of blame that pollute your thoughts. Real estate developer Troy G. Smith concurs, “There is only one thing that thwarts people’s ability to display courage, and that is fear. Cowardice is fear, jealousy is fear, anger is fear, self-doubt is fear, lack of faith is fear, narrow-mindedness is fear, racism is fear, hate is fear. Fear is the antithesis of courage, no matter what form it takes.”
Most people do not push past certain boundaries, particularly the artificial boundaries of corrupt or unethical workplace standards. Reflecting an absence of courage consciousness, such standards drag us down and create inroads for self-doubt. Few organizations strive to become a “virtuous organization.” A virtuous organization develops a “Courageous Leadership Charter” that practices agreed upon courageous leadership behaviors while ethics-focused organizations provide knowledge of rules and regulations.
As you begin to design your own destiny and master a mix of courage action skills to overcome your personal obstacles, you amplify your level of courage consciousness and advance your career. Stopping to reflect, contemplate or meditate supports this process, allowing you recognize and eliminate restrictive, deceptive thought patterns.
Former General Manager Curt L. Stowers summarizes his viewpoints on the importance of confronting obstacles at work: “The ‘easy’ approach is to nod one’s head and ignore the situation in hopes that it will somehow work out. The more courageous approach is to confront the issue and deal with the short-term discomfort.”
Ask yourself these closing questions and let them sink in for a week:
- Have you stepped up in your level of courage consciousness?
- What “insurmountable” obstacle has you stuck right now?
- How have you learned to merge self-actualization and courage consciousness at work?
- What has been the response or result?
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