Leading with Wisdom through Courage
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If you follow TSOR, you know that we believe integrity-based leadership is the requisite for personal, familial, and organizational success. In fact, it is what all of mankind needs. We also believe the path of true leadership is a narrow one, and while anyone may choose to embark down it, independently, few will be willing to endure the cost required to rise above mediocracy. TSOR’s purpose is to support all would be leaders in the pursuit of the narrow path, in the hope that through supporting others, their purpose as leaders of integrity will be fulfilled.

Courage on the Docks:

One of the first lessons I learned as a manager is the act of leadership requires courage.

I was 21 years old managing a 100+ employee operation in the Port of Los Angeles. As a young manager who barely needed to shave, “directing” longshoremen who were 40 years my senior in age and experience required that I possess the courage to act and engage. While I absolutely needed to build a relationship with these salty and experienced foremen, when a decision needed to be made or a change implemented, it was the courage to act that would catalyze my relationships into results. I have witnessed many times in my life how a failure of nerve on the part of a leader, no matter how relational they may be, would result in poor business decisions and ultimately poor results. This is the great ill of leadership today. 

Against the Current:

While many people can lead, few want to. They are more content going with the flow and following the directions or influences of others. In many regards, without leadership, groups of people will tend to fall back to the lowest common denominator – the path of least resistance and of greatest ease. While this has always been an undercurrent of human nature, the recent trend has been for leaders to float with this current as well. Unfortunately, this is a warning sign that a leader-in-title has departed from the narrow path of true leadership to engage in self-seeking or fear-based self-preservation. Leaders have always been needed to swim against the current of mediocracy and to exercise wisdom through courage. Fear always inhibits wisdom and typically results in foolishness. 

Your Lizard Brain:

If you believe modern evolutionary biology, then you will understand the idea of the “reptilian brain” and the subsequent development of the limbic brain and the neocortex, the latter of which differentiates us from the animals. 

“The lizard brain is hungry, afraid, angry… And it just wants to eat and be safe. He cares what others think, because the status of the tribe is essential for their survival. […] But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing.”

– Seth Godin

Of course, for the neocortex to differentiate us, it needs to be used. This takes actively recognizing when your lizard brain is attempting to commandeer your reactions and instead engaging the courage of your neocortex to act from a place of wisdom.

Wise action is the opposite of reptilian reaction and is only possible through the unique human ability to: choose courage over fear; act on 2nd and 3rd level consequences over 1st level consequences; and recognize that leadership is influencing others, even when the situation is impossibly difficult and unpopular. Remember, the day may come when the courage of men fails, but it is not this day.

Let’s rise above and lead.


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