Facing Your Fears as a Leader

The life of a leader is filled with defining moments. Some may only carry minor implications while others could change the course of a project or someone's career. In every circumstance, we must choose between being brave or being safe.

Bravery has many forms of delivery. When we hear the word brave, many of us see Mel Gibson portraying William Wallace, riding tall on his horse, sword raised in defiance, battle scared and weary, yet continuing the fight for freedom. For others, its going to work every day despite a prolonged illness or personal tragedy.

For Gary Haugen, the president of International Justice Mission, it was standing up to worldwide human trafficking. Every day he is on the front lines fighting to hold back evil and change lives. As a young, fast track attorney from Harvard, working for the Department of Justice, he made a choice in 1994 to choose brave over safe. It was after an assignment in Rwanda, where he saw firsthand the devastation of human life, that he choose to resign from "the safe" and start IJM. So he is qualified to say the following: “If you’re wrestling with some sort of decision, reflect for a moment and ask yourself, am I being brave, or am I being safe? In the end, it depends on whether we think God can be trusted.”

These are great examples of high level bravery but as I said before, "brave" can also show up in practical day to day decisions. Choosing to be brave can create leadership momentum. It is a mindset. It is a great question to ask in every setting. Am I being brave right now or am I playing it safe? Maybe there are times when you bunt instead of swing for the fence, but if you bunt for the whole game, you eventually lose the game. A boat in the harbor tied to the dock is safe, but it was built to be out on open water.

So what does day to day bravery look like?

Brave says yes to taking on a new project.
Safe says no, everything is going smooth right now.
Brave has the tough conversation.
Safe lets the behavior continue and does not rock the boat.
Brave said yes to the Promised land. 
Safe votes not to go in, no need to risk it.
Brave tells the truth in love.
Safe hedges the truth to avoid problems.
Brave asks "what if".
Safe asks "why change now".
Brave picks up the stone and takes on the giant.
Safe stands back and waits for someone else to do it.
Brave asks what do we need to do to get better.
Safe says we are doing fine.
Brave is the first to apologize.
Safe waits to see if it works out.
Brave offers an innovative solution.
Safe keeps their ideas to themselves.

Leadership is influence. Every day we must first lead ourselves and then others. The daily decision to choose brave over safe will help "untie the ropes" and set your course for leadership impact.

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