5 steps to embrace courage as a leader and prevent burnout

It seems fitting that 2022, with the unprecedented global challenges we face, sees the start of the Chinese Year of the Tiger, which prophesises strength, bravery, and courage. Courage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as ‘mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty’. The word ‘Courage’ has its roots in Latin and Middle English meaning literally ‘from the heart’. In the field of positive psychology, Courage the virtue, comprises the character strengths of bravery, perseverance, integrity and enthusiasm or zest, and serves to enable us to overcome internal and external barriers or resistance to success.


It feels as though we are all being called to embrace our courage for the greater good and together these definitions call on us to match our intellectual and moral strength with our love and compassion for each other to overcome our challenges and succeed.


Courage is the virtue of our times.


Courage is one of my core values, and as my coaching programmes illustrate courage is the main thing I help my clients achieve within their purpose-driven leadership.


Courage is one of six virtues identified within the field of positive psychology, and alongside the other five has been found to promote wellbeing and prevent burnout.


Being courageous requires us to

· To act with strength even when things are scary

· keep on going even when things are difficult and to complete what we set out to do;

· to be honest and present ourselves authentically,

· to energise people around us and be enthusiastic about what we are doing


So how can we do that in such uncertain times, particularly when we are purpose or mission-led?

1. Understand the fear you are facing – what is it that you are fearful of? Explore the genuine worst case scenario and don’t forget that you are not powerless here – you can influence the likelihood of the worst case scenario, and you can respond to it. So, consider the worst case scenario, factor yourself in, and then evaluate whether this really is the worst case.


2. Challenge the fear – is this a rational fear? Does it make sense given who you are, and all that you have previously experienced and achieved, to be fearful in this moment? If it does, then write yourself a note as your best friend, from a perspective of compassion and understanding that accepts and acknowledges the fear and provides reassurance of your ability to cope. If it doesn’t, well now you know that there is genuinely little holding you back apart from how you’re thinking.


3. Be honest with yourself – what do you need to feel more courageous? Do you need to alter your priorities so that you can put yourself first, to re-energise? Do you need collaborators, practical assistance, new partnerships, or to change direction completely? Move out of your head, place one hand over your heart and ask yourself ‘what do I need?’. Then, place one hand on your stomach and ask ‘What do I need?’. You have three brains in your body – each of which provides a connection to different instincts, tune in to all of them and see what you learn.


4. Remember who you are – reflect on your ‘mountain of value’. What life lessons, skills, strengths, competencies, and values led you here. Remember that you are uniquely placed to lead the mission you started.


5. REST – this stands for Retreat (take time for yourself); Eat healthily; Sleep (possibly the most important habit to create in order to maintain healthy physiological, emotional and cognitive systems) and Treat – yes, it is very good for you to reward yourself when something goes well, when you step into your courage. We do not appreciate the steps we take, the things we overcome when we are being courageous, and so treating ourselves is so important when we do.


If you'd like to work through these ideas in person, then why not come along to my 3 Days to Thrive or 3 Days to Powerful FREE events, details of which can be found HERE.

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