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Courage is a Habit

December 5, 2011

Recently, I talked about the notion that we never regret brave.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was catching up with my twin’s wife, Jenny. It’s always fun to catch up with Jenny; she’s an immigration attorney and struck out on her own a few years ago to start her own practice. Jenny believes in what she does and that she is helping people who need help, who need representation and are under-represented. She was telling me about the challenges of building and developing her practice — about facing her biggest challenges. Somewhere in the conversation I said, “Courage is a habit.”

Funny thing is, as I said it – “courage is a habit” – I realized that is something I believe, just had not put into words before.

Habit is defined as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary; courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear (bravery).

Once we do the brave thing once, another thing that requires us to be brave pops up right away. We never regret being brave; in fact, it helps build a courageous quality of mind. It can become a habit; a way of life. Making the decision, making the choice, taking the action that is often the one that makes us a bit queasy, a bit shaky, definitely uncomfortable. That’s ok; it is through conflict, through friction, that progress is made.

So, for me, I just have to wake up each day and practice brave; practice courage. What is the conversation I am dreading having because it could be uncomfortable? Schedule it. What is the message I am nervous delivering because I’m likely to make someone uncomfortable?  Deliver it. Where do I need to request help? Reach out.

There’s a belief in the Buddhist tradition that the avoidance of suffering causes more suffering than the actual suffering. When we aren’t being courageous, aren’t we just trying to avoid suffering? Are we trying to avoid rejection, feeling uncomfortable, or even the suffering of failing? But life is not about being comfortable, it’s not even about seeking pleasure. I believe it’s about pursuing our particular potential; our particular and unique genius (which we all have.) That kind of pursuit requires bravery, demands courage. Yours looks different from mine.

Some days I suck at this. Some days I try, some days I fail. I practice.

Every day, I see Wisegate members practicing bravery. Kris Knight, senior privacy officer at Phillips Electronics and an early Wisegate founding member, approaches the topic of privacy by embracing complete transparency (Kris calls herself the least private privacy person she knows). Her point of view, which she champions, is that often the aggregation of data (meaning it’s not kept private) is how companies can serve their customers better. Health care companies, for instance, can benefit patients with evidence-based medicine.

Kris champions this approach because she believes in it. That’s quite a brave view in her arena, and it’s inspiring to see her practice courage. Kris (and others) are also brave as they join us in our vision of being the best knowledge resource in the world for senior technologists. They are brave as they introduce peers to Wisegate – brave because we are new and we are creating something new in the world. And, that takes courage. I’d like to thank them for their courage on our behalf.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2011 7:15 am

    We face issues at work everyday. Recent issues centered on a very large vendor trying to skirt the issues of major audit problems by refusing to address the issues first, and then trying to strong arm their way into acceptance. Armed with political clout and an arrogant attitude, this organization was stopped dead in it’s tracks by the courage of one security professional who just said no! Much more to it than this but suffice to say that the professional’s livelihood was on the line as the situation grew quite nasty before turning postive for this professional. The person stood their ground, adhered to priniciples and forced the vendor to comply.


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