The world is mourning the loss of an American hero. Neil Armstrong died Saturday at the age of 82. For those leaders reading this who were not around in 1969, Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon. He was also part of an elite group portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, The Right Stuff. What did Armstrong have that all leaders need?
Neil Armstrong had many amazing traits – one of them was a characteristic of all great leaders: COURAGE.
It seems obvious that if you’re going to be a fighter pilot and an astronaut, you need courage – true. But for you and I to be effective where we lead, we’ll need some of the same courage Armstrong demonstrated even though it will show up differently.
As leaders, we must find the courage to…
Go First – Leaders are willing to go first… first with an idea, first with a solution, first with a vision for a better tomorrow, first into battle, first to the moon. Here’s an interesting thought – if you go second, who is the leader? It may not be you.
Be Different – I have a lot of passion around this right now. I’m working this week to try and finish my next manuscript entitled Leaders are Different. Leaders are often not reasonable people. They are fueled by levels of passion that some find uncomfortable; they see things others don’t, and they are willing to march to a different drummer. All this requires courage.
Stand Alone – The fact that leaders are willing to go first and the fact they are comfortable being different often puts them in the unique and sometimes awkward position of standing alone. For many leaders, this is not something they relish, but they accept it. It’s why you sometimes hear leaders talking about it being “lonely at the top.”
Do What’s Right – This is a defining moment for virtually every leader. When the heat is on, what do you do? Great leaders have a sense of right and wrong – it is their north star. Without the courage to do what’s right, our leadership is a mirage. One moment it is there and the next it is gone – but it was never really there to start with.
Can courage be developed or is it something you’re born with? I think courage can and must be developed. Courage can be found at the intersection of our deepest beliefs, our preparation and our circumstances.[GLS_Shield]
How are you developing the right stuff called courage?