If you have been reading my courage blogs I have featured a variety of topics, such as “Times of Indecision,” “Permission to be BIG,” “Who Controls Your Life?” and “Awakening Your Voice to Courage.” In this courage blog I ask you, “Do you willingly confess your shortcomings, mishaps or missteps?” By confessing, I don’t mean your “sins.”

For example, how do you acknowledge that you know nothing about a topic? What if you have not read some required documents for a sales meeting? Here’s what I say: “I confess I am not qualified to respond on that topic… or I confess I have not yet read the papers…” One woman said to me, “There are many times I find myself responding to a discussion topic as if I know something about it when in fact, I don’t. I feel if I reveal my lack of knowledgeable I will be perceived as unintelligent (silly, I know). Other times, I find myself innocently covering up or glossing over an incident instead of confessing. What’s the best plan of action to apply courage?”

To confess is itself a mark of courage (based on the original definition of the word, meaning “heart and spirit”) and maturity. Confessing also keeps you centered in your courage—what I call courage-centering.

A popular radio personality named “Sly” confessed to his community that he was addicted to painkillers and alcohol. He was not in trouble with the law, so he could have kept his predicament a secret. So why bring the topic up? He did it because he hopes his openness will help others confront addictions. Putting the truth on the table inoculates you before someone might expose the situation. This is the same as “telling before someone else tells on you;” it’s divesting of constraints that hold the spirit down. I find that a rare form of courage. This popular radio host drew from his reservoir of courage and chose an action that validated his internal essence.

Confessing is good for the spirit when it’s done in a timely manner and with the right intent. The process helps you face the truth; you take responsibility for what’s happening with your spirit and you clean up those missteps that collect unhealthy chi. What do you need to confess?

·         Do you need to confess to your children that you have not shared the whole truth about a family matter?

·         Do you need to confess that you responded at work to a political shake-up prematurely?

·         Will you confess during a risky-topic of conversations that you hold judgments about the topic?

Yes, you invite potential disputes when you stand in your courage and confess, but the gift you receive is that you hold yourself 100% accountable for your integrity. For example, “I confess that I have not thoroughly read the document…” It’s simple! “I confess that I….”

A woman decided to seek a divorce after 26 years of marriage. She said, “I confess that for all those years I was a fraud. I’ve never been truly happy in my marriage. I was not authentic about my feelings.” Now that’s courage (even though this demonstration of everyday courage won’t make a headline in the media). Our culture has a tendency to highlight sensational, amazing, miraculous or scandalous acts of courage, such as confessing you were a draft-dodger or covering up that you harm your spouse. The assessment is that if your story is not a headline it can’t be valuable. That’s what keeps your personal, less sensationalized courage merely a footnote, and that dilemma is rabid in our culture. It’s time to honor everyday courage!

With thirteen years of original research on courage and courage leadership, I am referred to as The Courage Expert. I confess I’ve never done anything sensational, amazing or scandalous (that I’m aware of!). Confessing shows courage. Why don’t you try it? Let me know how it resonates with you. 

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE, trainer and courage coach. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®.

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