The OWL Despatch

Profiles In Everyday Courage. How Courageous Are You?

Profiles in everyday courage

“Why don’t business leaders fully live their present role and gladly work at a few levels lower? Why do they play roles a few levels junior?” We were in deep conversation when Aristotle popped into it. “Courage is the mother of all virtues because, without it, you cannot consistently perform the others”.  Long after that conversation was over, that line stayed with me and I was interested in profiles in everyday courage.

That evening, Mumbai’s monsoon seemed to be keen on making up for it delay with a relentless spell. I sat there thinking of courage and reading up. 

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I found that Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’, was one of the most important historical philosophical works. It had a huge impact across centuries. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses how individuals should live best.  The first of the virtues he discusses is courage.

Profiles in everyday courage.

The mention of courage gets our mind to dart to great acts of valour. Say in a battlefield or in extraordinary circumstances. But I am interested in everyday courage. The courage that meets us in everyday moments, wrapped in the mundane and set amongst ordinary people. 

The friend who wants to use her potential to the fullest and is going beyond her comfort zones to make it work. 

The young man who with much hesitation walks up and asks if I am interested in buying a credit card. 

A business leader of a large firm wondering how to put in place a successor who will take the firm places. 

These are to me are profiles in everyday courage. 

In Aristotle’s view.

Aristotle, interestingly, talks about courage as a midpoint between two extremes. On the one end of that extreme is boldness and on the other is fear. When you lean more towards the extreme of boldness, you end up being rash. When you end up leaning towards fear, that’s cowardice. 

Courage is not the absence of fear. According to him, it is taking decisive action despite fear. It is taking the right action, at the right time, for the right reason, despite fear. 

Here are more examples for you to consider. 

Have you seen how some managers avoid having difficult conversations, despite them being important?  Or for that matter the subordinate who won’t muster the courage to tell his manager that he is wrong. Even better, the courage in evolved managers to ensure such conversations take place?! 

To approach difficult conversations with rash energy can undo the conversation. Avoiding having them altogether is cowardice personified. Finding the balance, demonstrating the intent and engaging in deep dialogue is an example of everyday profiles in courage. 

Those involved in facilitating change know a thing or two about courage. For when you move from the familiar to the unfamiliar, it is courage that propels. If I were to add one more element, the tallest courage is to be able to look into the mirror and see oneself with warts, blemishes and biases. People who are self-aware, at peace with who they are, while being ready to change are such a pleasure to work with. They to me are super profiles of for everyday courage

May I request you to ponder for a minute, how courageous you are. Everyday courage. Do you take the right action at the right time for the right reason, despite lurking fears? When was the last time you had a difficult chat and gave feedback to someone? How often have you had feedback from others and a chance to examine your actions and patterns? 

We all need to. 

Pieces To Ponder.

In this edition, I have some awesome pieces to share. Each has a shade of everyday courage. 

Google Chief Data Scientist argues that we are a tool making place, that humanity’s story is that of automation. She goes as far as the wheel and brings us to the altar of Artificial Intelligence. This business of blind adoption of technology deserves an honest conversation. This piece should help

The second piece for this edition is where Linda Hill from Harvard Business School talks about how managers can adapt to a different world. A digital world!   The premise: Leadership in the modern day world can be overwhelming and requires a degree of adaptation. Brilliant conversation. 

Are you one of those those who take notes on a laptop? If you are, I am one of you. Well, there is some news for us. We are going to be better off taking notes by hand. There is research to prove this. Well, what else can we do, but spread the word and reach for our pens. 

Staying with tools, why are voice based tech assistants gaining ground? From Alexa to Google Mini to Bixby.  If you are keen to get a basic understanding of the ‘voice era’, this is a fascinating read. I read it a few times over. 

The nuclear waste that we are producing is going to stay dangerous for thousands of years. How do we protect future humans from accessing them? Will a giant board saying ‘RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL’ work? What alternatives do we have? Looks like there are folks thinking of it. Read on. 

Finally, Mary Meeker.  The lady who has been publishing Internet Trends report for the last 15 years has published the latest one for 2019. We tried capturing several conversations, history, criticism and commentary at one place. Give it a look! That took some effort. Plus sitting down to examine Mary Meeker’s journey was inspiring. It is a profile in courage!  

Thats that for this edition.

Do spread the word. Take one courageous step forward. That first step in courage often leads to the next step! 

Curated reads for this 34th edition of The OWL Despatch

Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

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