Bill is executive vice president for an energy technology company. He defines courage as “the willingness and ability to absorb mental obstructions, abuse or cruelty without depression, discouragement or negativity.”
Bill’s understanding about courage and how to eventually apply courageous leadership blossomed when he was a teenager. “As a teenager, I felt verbally and mentally abused in several situations. The example that has had the most significant impact on my life was when I was a sophomore member of the high school ski team and several seniors were exceptionally verbally abusive toward me. It was a difficult time as I was searching and hoping for acceptance among my peers. I had to have courage to accept and deal with the mental abuse. Rather than withdrawing and entering a shell, I dealt with the matter head-on.
I remember vividly being in a hotel room at a ski meet in Jackson, Wyoming. There was a moment that I felt beaten down, terribly alone and abandoned. I looked in the mirror and realized that at the core of my problem was a lack of confidence and self-esteem. I willed myself to be more confident and worked to improve my self-esteem. To me, this was the epitome of ‘courage.’ This was a defining moment in my life.
I was soon elected captain of the ski team. Often I have faced a lack of confidence in my ability to accomplish a task. Each time I’ve retreated to the loneliness of that Wyoming hotel room and reflected on my finding the courage to move forward in a confident manner. Another defining moment came when I entered Law School. Because of my absence from school for over two years, I once again needed to summon the confidence to compete in the classroom.
With courage (and hard work), I rose to the prestigious position of managing director of the school’s law review. Courage in my business life has always been important and paid huge dividends. One time I was released from a significant position because the company was being liquidated. This was extremely difficult with two small children and no income, but once again I retreated to that experience in the Wyoming hotel room.
It took courage (and a lot of patience) to hold my family together while waiting for the “right” position to become available. Continuing today, I regularly reflect on the need to apply my self-confidence and self-esteem or what I call courage to compete in the business world. I enjoy and appreciate the challenges of business and life, respect those with whom I work and enjoy the “ups and downs” of life in general. Ultimately, I am courageous and I now possess self-esteem in a humble way.
Bill said that he continually asks himself “Am I proud of myself? Have I been the best that I can be?” Working out one’s self-doubt is not easy. When people stay in StuckThinking™ they thwart the courage actions that support everyday courage at work.
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