Why Is Courage Essential in Any Engagement Program?
How could there possibly be a link between employee engagement and the way we relate to fear?
As we shift from an industrial revolution based workplace to one that is driven by accelerating technological change, the way we relate to fear has profound implications of whether or not we are involved and enthused or in a trance brought about by one’s inability to change.
Fear has been a loaded subject since the beginnings of time. Aristotle characterized fear as the opposite of confidence and that it could be overcome through courage. Epicurus believed it was best to predict and avoid fear at all costs. Calen, another Greek philosopher, noted that people often became paralyzed over imaginary fears. Thousands of years later, much of mainstream culture is engaged in the same outlooks and debates.
But, have we progressed?
Humans, especially Americans, can believe anything they want to believe. The impact of what we believe is often hard to track because our transactions with fear happen in an instant. However, what we believe about fear can last for centuries and those moment-to-moment decisions add up. Today, they add up to an American workforce in turmoil and much of the current state has to do with the continuing myths we buy into about fear. Many of these myths are keeping many of us from taking the very action that is needed in the face of change, especially in changing oneself.
Human history is filled with extraordinarily good religious and political leaders. Unfortunately, unscrupulous leaders have also recognized that perpetuating myths about fear can be very beneficial to their cause. What is the value of a populace that is “paralyzed with fear?” The paralysis of a population can pave the way for someone else’s agenda. One of the most astounding admissions from President Harry Truman, the chief architect of the Cold War, came late in his life:
“The demagogues, crackpots, and professional patriots had a field day pumping fear into the American people. Many good people actually believed that we were in imminent danger of being taken over by the Communists and that our government in Washington was Communist riddled. So widespread was this campaign that it seemed no one would be safe from attack. This was the tragedy and shame of our time.”
President Truman wrote these striking words, steeped in regret, shortly before he passed away. Bravo for the courage it took to reveal his truth. But, Isn’t so very sad that few people listened and learned from this striking case-study? Think of all the time and progress we lost to those words, “many good people actually believed.”
We don’t pay much attention how we respond to fear because what we believe becomes automatic behavior. If anything, our work culture has to become less automatic, less machine like and definitely more open to having the experience of fear. Because the sole biological purpose of fear is to take action. As technology takes on the tasks that turned us into machine-like workers, we are required to step up to the plate and become accountable, interested, empathetic, creative, forward-thinking, proactive, and especially new. Many of us have been running from the very skills we must learn to connect with others, to sell our value, to present our ideas, and to look people in the eye. I call them courage skills. But, what are we to do if we don’t bolster our courage and reward others for its demonstration?
The world is filled with sales people hawking programs promising to overcome our fears. However, the most successful people in the world don’t even attempt to become fearless. But, they are filled to the brim with courage.
(C) Copyright, 2017, David Harder – (All Rights Reserved)
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