Building Bridges

Building a Path to Bravery

Comfort zoneI was honored recently to have been interviewed by Ed Evarts about bravery in the workplace. Ed is a leadership coach, podcast coach, and author who helps successful leaders raise their visibility and value at their organizations.

The topic hit home for me. Bravery, including professional courage, has resonated over the past year for us more than ever, so it seems a fitting subject for a blog post at this moment.

Is bravery a choice? This question has always intrigued me. Sometimes we choose to be brave, but more often we are thrust into a situation in which we need to access the bravery we already have within us.

I believe that bravery can’t always be instantly achieved; rather, there’s often a journey we take to growing brave. During the podcast, Ed asked me about three words or phrases that come to mind when I think about bravery. Here’s what I shared:

  • Presence and engagement: interacting with others and showing empathy for their struggles, which helps build trust
  • Resilience: demonstrating flexibility, plus having a willingness to shift and question assumptions
  • Possibility: exploring fully the good the future can bring

I’ve learned that these characteristics are linked to authenticity. To be brave, it helps to be authentic, and I’ve found I’ve needed to summon my bravery when I’ve been asked to do something that deviates from my core self and values.

A specific situation comes to mind when I think about how I’ve faced a test of my courage. My team and I once worked with a client who placed her designee in charge of our project. After some time working together, it grew clear to me that my team and I would not be able to work with this individual and still succeed in the project. I felt this in my gut.

My discovery led to a difficult conversation with the client, in which I tactfully described that I didn’t think the project could continue in its current framework. When the client responded, I really needed to exhibit presence and engagement by understanding and empathizing with her point of view.

It turned out the client had also experienced differences with her designee. So, together we explored possibilities as we changed to a working model in which the client would manage the situation internally, and my team would work with the ultimate stakeholders. For both the client and me, this new communication plan became a win-win.

Courage helped to build trust with my client, as the relationship deepened when I was brave enough to be forthright. It also preserved the trust of my team, whose success would have been compromised had I not stepped forward.

Consider a recent challenge you’ve faced. Perhaps some of these lessons I’ve learned to help find a path to bravery can help you, too:

  1. Sit with the challenge that requires bravery and feel it, even though that’s hard.
  2. Talk with a trusted colleague or friend (or more than one). Often, it really helps!
  3. Be open to adapting in the challenging situation; it will likely be necessary.
  4. Welcome ideas and suggestions from others; you might not implement them, but they very likely could spark ideas of your own.

As our workplace continues to evolve in the coming years, may you experience all the rewards being brave can bring.

I invite you to subscribe to Ed’s podcast Be Brave at Work to hear more about other’s bravery stories.