Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

guest post By Shelly L. Francis

Leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And at the heart of this daily practice is courage.

Through more than 120 interviews, I found a pattern of five key ingredients in how leaders have learned to cultivate courage. Three powerful main concepts are true self, trust, and community; the two key practices are paradox and reflection. Here’s a brief overview.

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True Self

Our basic premise is that inside of each person is the essential self who continues to grow and yet somehow, deep down, remains constant. Every person has access to this inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity and integrity, inner teacher, heart, inner compass, spirit, or soul. Your true self is a source of guidance and strength that helps you find your way through life’s complexities and challenges. When you begin to listen to and trust the truest part of yourself, your choices and relationships flow from that trust, begetting more trust.

Trust

Courage takes trust—in ourselves and in each other. Trustworthy relationships create the conditions for people to flourish and for positive change to arise. Relational trust is based on our perceptions of personal regard, professional respect, competence, and integrity in other people. Coming to understand the attitudes, assumptions, and biases that lead to such perceptions of trust entails honest inner work. Our collection of principles and practices is a time-tested approach for facilitating inner work and cultivating relational trust.

Community

Becoming more self-aware and trustworthy requires both individual introspection and a supportive community. We offer a specialized meaning of community as “solitude’s alone together” as well as a “community of inquiry.” Our practices offer models for how to reflect and interact with each other so that new clarity and courage can emerge.

Being receptive to the very idea of needing other people in community takes courage and yet, in turn, creates resilience. Leaders must know how to invite people into and hold them accountable for co creating trustworthy space so that they can support each other in service of their work together. Achieving effective collaboration requires genuine trustworthy community.

Paradox

We can learn to practice paradox by recognizing that the polarities that come with being human (life and death, love and loss) are “both-ands” rather than “either-ors.” We can learn to let those tensions hold us in ways that stretch our hearts and minds open to new insights and possibilities. With paradox we honor both the voice of the individual and our collective intelligence. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions, and emotions. Paradox values both speaking and listening. An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives, helping us hold greater complexity. Integrating our inner lives with our work in the world comes from daily practice in holding paradox.

Reflection

Refection cultivates more ways of knowing and learning that complement your mind and emotions, but draw from a deeper place: your intuition, imagination, and innermost being. Reflection is a practice that can be enriched by the mirroring of trust- worthy companions.

When we reflect together, such as by exploring how universal stories of human experience intersect with the personal stories of our lives, it can create relational trust. Guided conversations focused on a poem, a teaching story, a piece of music, or a work of art—drawn from diverse cultures and wisdom traditions—invite us to reflect on the big questions of our lives, allowing each person to explore them in his or her own way. Reflection helps us find the inner ground on which we stand firm, and it helps us find common ground with others.

If we are willing to embrace the challengeof becoming whole, we cannot embrace it all alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.”

—Parker J. Palmer

 

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

The Mood Elevator and Secrets of an 80-Year-Old Triathlete

The Mood Elevator and The Secrets of an 80-Year-Old Triathlete

Guest post by Dr. Larry Senn

I don’t know how to say the word “retirement” as the concept is foreign to me. I tell people “how can I retire from my purpose” which is to help more and more people live life at their best mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The Mood Elevator is the best tool I have found to support me and others in that purpose. And Senn Delaney the firm I founded 40 years ago is best at creating healthy cultures where that purpose is alive. I still love writing about the Mood Elevator, speaking about it to groups and being an active partner in a firm that teaches it as part of shaping the culture of companies around the world.

Most weeks I am traveling around the country meeting with, coaching and facilitating culture shaping session. Weekends and most mornings I am running, biking, weight lifting or swimming as part of training for the half dozen sprint triathlons I do each year. I win most in my age group because I’m often the only person in the group (last man standing).

The Mood Elevator is the best tool I have found to support me and others in that purpose.

Family is incredibly important to me, and I am committed to being fit to keep up with all of them including a teen age son we had when my wife was 52 and I was 65. I’m blessed to have raised a very adventurous family with 5 children and 5 grandchildren so in the summers you’ll find me water skiing, off road motorcycle riding, zip lining, or jumping on the trampoline with my kids and grand kids.

This is probably not what most people picture for an 80 year-old so I am frequently asked “how do you do that?”

I think it is largely based on having a purpose which inspires me to need to be my best. For me that purpose is family and the work I do. I can’t do that if I’m not at my best and I can’t be at my best mentally and emotionally if I’m not at my best physically. That belief and the understanding that you use it or lose it and the body is a sacred gift provides me motivation and some discipline. I tell people that when I look at a chocolate chip cookie I see my 17 year old sons face– and I don’t eat it.

For those who want to know some specifics here are my tips from the 82-year old triathlete:

  1.  If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. This motto came from Dr. Kenneth Cooper who wrote the original book titled It states that the body doesn’t wear out; it rusts out from lack of use. After reading this book I changed my mindset on movement, I had always been an athlete growing up but once I started my business and I got busy I stopped making the time for exercise. This book encouraged me to develop a regular cardiovascular exercise routine and I started running 50 years ago, and I haven’t stopped since.
  2. Aerobics and Beyond. There are three important types of exercise that I make an effort to incorporate into my routine: aerobics, anaerobic, and stretching. My aerobics is my running- I also swim and bike ride which I picked up after I did my first triathlon at 70 years old. For anaerobic, I do strength training. Strengthening your muscles helps with core strength which prevents back injuries and improves posture, it increases bone density, and increases your metabolism which can help with weight loss. The last and perhaps most neglected form of exercise is As we get older we become stiff and less flexible, I notice in some elderly people that when they’re driving they can’t even turn their neck far enough to see what’s behind them when they’re driving- this is an image that motivates me to stretch regularly.
  3. Foods You Choose. There is so much information that I have read over the years on what the best food to eat is. I do firmly believe that the food I eat has had a profound impact on my health. I haven’t had to be on any medication, I have had no sign of high cholesterol, blood pressure, or any other medical issues and my doctors are often astounded when they do my blood work on the kind of shape I’m in. Below is the foods I have tried to avoid and what I incorporate daily that has helped me keep healthy.
What I avoid:
  • Saturated fats from dairy products, processed or red meat, and the wrong oils (saturated or trans fats) found in most processed food
  • Simple carbohydrates and non-naturally occurring sugars found in pastries, desserts, soft drinks, white flour, and most fruit juices
On the other hand, these are what I try to get plenty of:
  • Vegetables, whole fruits, and nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Protein mainly from legumes (beans and lentils) and other plant products. If more protein is needed, I use plant-based protein powder supplements. For meat, I choose fish, such as wild caught salmon or tuna.
  • The right oils, especially those that have high omega-3s
  • Fiber from vegetables, as well as grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat
  • Antioxidants, such as those found in blueberries, acai berries, and pomegranate juice
  • Water, while limiting juice consumption and cutting out fish

 It took me a while to develop and implement these habits and guidelines for myself. All it takes is a small step towards bettering your health. From my experience, it has been so incredibly worth it and allows me the gift to play with my kids and grand kids and do the work I love.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.