Human courage, the primary competence that saw us through Paleolithic species-threatening hazards and led the United States against the greatest empires in history, is no longer in our national consciousness.
We didn’t mean to stop developing character. No one would consciously choose to make expensive daily personal sacrifices of hard-earned well-being on the altar of fear. But while chasing increasingly elusive success, we lost our way.
In our families, universities, schools, communities, and institutions, we accidentally canceled our central national life quality program – character development. In that dimmed light, we have treated the observations of Moses, Aristotle, and Confucius as academic trivia questions instead of as demonstrated truths defining the quality of life. We actually began to believe that we no longer needed wisdom.
“We cultivate the happiness of heaven in our daily lives by right action.”
The emancipation from fear and failure when values-based, principled, courageous behaviors are employed allows us to develop courageous communication, courageous leadership, and courageous problem solving…..then we become ready to face and fix high-end conflicts and mend gut-wrenching personal, relationships and family feuds.
Yet people refuse to admit that they follow low core values. It’s amusing that even low business values are desperately denied in public, openly criticized in the media, and popularly followed behind closed doors.
It’s amusing, but it’s not funny. These are the bad practices on the far side of the river of fear that sink spirits, kill morale, and cause relationships to tank.
These are the predatory omnivores that live within us, but seem too powerful for us to challenge, combat, or stop:
Abuse Appearances Arrogance Backstabbing
Bigotry Bribery Cliques Control
Cronyism Disrespect Egotism Expediency
Favoritism Fear Gossip Greed
Hostility Isolation Manipulation Misrepresentation
Posing Pride Productivity Profits
Puffery Racism Results Revenge
Ruthlessness Sarcasm Self-interest Sexism
Low core values are seductive because they emerge from base human instincts and, if they don’t result in lawsuits or consent decrees, can produce early, short-term results. They inevitably fail because they contravene the principles that invite and sustain true success and can’t fulfill higher-order needs. This becomes obvious when top employees leave and customers become scarce.
The first sign of Courage, the guts to accept the brutal Truth.
The second sign of Courage, taking steps towards open, honest communication that embodies respect and appreciation. Tell the person what you want and be fair.
“Thus we begin in right and wrong by honoring our conscience.”(1)
The third sign of Courage, accepting responsibility for failure, mistakes, accidents, errors, etc. In this step we avoid blaming others for the wrong and willingly take constructive, positive steps to fix the error. Acknowledging failure and righting the wrong even in the face of negative opinion from the public.
Integrity is defined as acting for what is right. Integrity comes from the Latin for “complete” and “incorruptible.” It has three parts; (1) discern right from wrong. (2) act for what is right regardless of risk to self, and (3) teach others from that act of integrity. In this very definition lives high human conduct. When we combine virtues plus core values of leadership therein lies high human conduct.
When an authority figure shows courage by facing personal fears, even his or her critics are secretly inspired. But when a boss folds to uncertainty, the courage and capability of the organization become as useful as confetti in a tornado.
Courage is a stunning quality and it is learnable. But two exceptionally clever moves that prove unsuccessful are fleeing and blaming others. Another clever, but unaccepted move, is beating someone up because you feel that it is an acceptable avenue to “get things done.”
Once we begin to recognize our poor habits that are based in low core values we can then institute change in our daily lives by studying, practicing and mirroring positive core values of leadership. Thus, we begin to see and to invite change in our lives. We may find a heavy burden lifted off our shoulders. A bolder that was dragging us down to the River of Fear and pinning us underneath is intimidating lies.