Friday, August 16, 2013

Courage. Have you got it?

Last week I attended the Global Leadership Summit. Honestly, I'm still wondering how I got there. I mean, I'm not a leader. I'm not some business exec in a suit. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, for pete's sake. Isn't that about the farthest away you can get from the world's idea of leadership? I expected a conference on leadership to be way over my head. How was I going to understand a word they said? After all, don't these leaders all speak "Leader-ese?" But there I was. I was sitting among a few hundred other attendees at a satellite location with other members of our church. God had even taken care of the conference fees for me and our group carpooled, so I couldn't provide any further excuse for not going.

I am still reeling with information overload, but have learned SO much about being a leader. In some respects, however, I'm also left with more questions. Questions like, "Am I leading well?"and "What changes do I need to make to become a better leader?" and "How do we model these leadership qualities in our church?"

One of the speakers that left a big impression on me was Gen. Colin Powell. His example of leadership left me simply amazed. In a nutshell, I want to be the kind of leader he is. He talked about how leadership isn't about ordering people around. It's about believing in yourself and inspiring others. It's "getting more out of people than science and management says you can." You do that by having a common vision and purpose. You do that by giving them the resources they need so that they can get the job done. It's about empowering others, "giving them a zone of operation," and then acting "in a way that causes them to trust you." (Gen. Powell)

Leadership takes enormous courage and "demands a non-stop flow of fortitude." It involves risk, and it most certainly ensures failure. Courage requires us as leaders to "keep leading strong in spite of blistering criticism, in spite of discouragement, and to finish strong." (Bill Hybels) Another conference speaker, Brené Brown, said, "What a leader does is model the courage to ask the questions." And when it comes to failure, she asked, "How many times did you fail? How quickly did you clean it up? What did you learn from your failure?"

Brown also explains that "The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” (Brené Brown)

In closing, Brené shared the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 

(THE MAN IN THE ARENA - An excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910, by Theordore Roosevelt.)  

This is just a sampling of what I heard at the Global Leadership Summit. It was a wealth of vital information that anyone can draw matter where they lead. You can lead with courage. Have you got it?


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