«Courage – how does purpose support our inner hero?»

A blogpost accompanying the podcast Episode 2 of «It's the Purpose, Dear!» - by Nadja Schnetzler

· Purpose,Podcast,Courage,Collaboration


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Courage: An ambition that gets buried too often

When we work with organisations and teams often the topic of courage arises. Teams and organisations have the ambition to take courageous decisions, make bold moves and create big astonishing things.

But in everyday decision making individuals and teams in organisations often take less courageous decisions, create compromises or retreat to versions that are less controversial than what they originally had planned.

The same is true for individuals. How often do we not allow ourselves to be bold and courageous, our true authentic selves, but instead try to blend in with others or wear a mask, «play it professional» to better «fit in» with others?

A purpose helps you to be courageous and not to give in to compromises.

A purpose is like a shield against those compromises. If we know what we stand for, as individuals, teams an organisations, we have a compass that constantly reminds us of what we actually want and what we actually stand for.

While writing this, it occurred to me that not only individuals have true authentic selves that want to be expressed; organisations and companies do, too! And believe me: People can instantly detect whether you do something that is in line with your DNA or not. Authentic people and authentic companies shine brighter and are more visible, more indistinguishable, more unique.

Follow the heart

There is a difference between being brave and being courageous. Courage comes from the French word «coeur», which means heart. Brave comes from the Latin «Barbarus» which means «savage». The distinction is important, because if you do something from your heart, your innermost self, or from a place of violence or power, is a big difference. Here again is where a purpose makes a difference: Your purpose states what you want to do, what you really value, what you believe in, while being brave is often something we do out of obligation, duty or to impress someone.

So if we do something out of bravery we do it by pushing through the fear. If we do it out of courage we do it despite our fear. We overcome insecurity, fear, uncertainty and ambiguity by using our purpose as a north star. Even though we don’t know what will happen, we decide to do it anyway.

Clarity helps courage.

The problem is that without a purpose, we get only very weak signals that prompt us toward courage. we might forget what was truly important to us and it will be easier to convince us of a not so courageous idea than if we have a clear purpose we can use for all decision making. A purpose, therefore, gives us clarity and makes it much easier to be courageous.

Courage can be big in the small stuff

The artist Niki de Saint Phalle once said: «There is nothing more shocking than joy». With teams, we often encounter that being joyful at work feels like a rebellious act or can take a lot of courage. At the same time joy is also such a driver for good collaboration and great quality of work. If we don’t have to do something out of obligation, but we do it because we love it, that makes all the difference. Shoutout to all the teams that have joy in their purpose, you rebels! ❤️

Experiments help us being courageous

When it comes to collaboration and following the purpose, the best trick in the bag is to try out stuff or to run experiments. It is much easier to be courageous about something that only 20 people can test, for instance, than launching it for 20’000 customers. By trying out things at a smaller scale we can courageously test our riskiest assumption and use the results to launch our next test.

Being courageous in small bits really moves innovation along in companies. Big plans with a thousand milestones – not so much.

Another aspect of experimentation is an attitude of curiosity, of wanting to find out. When we run an experiment we say: «I am not sure what will happen, but I am curious to find out».

Working with a purpose also allows us to cultivate «beginner’s eye», to look at new ideas, problems and challenges from a new perspective and not to automatically walk in our well-trodden paths.

Courage is a decision

In German, the word for self-confidence is literally «trusting yourself» («Selbstvertrauen»). When we trust ourselves we decide to trust our gut feeling, our instinct and to jump off that diving board. We decide to be courageous, to ignore the naysayers, the problems and the doubts and to trust that what we believe in is powerful and important.

Train those courage muscles

When we base our actions on a purpose, we start training those courage muscles and learn to do the things we actually want to do and not be distracted by fear, uncertainty and things that are unclear or new. And the more we do that, the more courageous we become.

Don't forget to listen and subscribe to our Podcast, «It's the Purpose, Dear!». It's the perfect mix of inspiration and fun, with a dash of purpose-driven glitter.