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Courage Within a Group

How to encourage courage is a field of research that surely has potential for enormous impact on the world, and on individual lives. I just ran across some interesting findings on the Leading With Lift blog on “Where is the Courage in Organizations.” As a nearly-lifelong freelancer who comes from a family of DIY-ers, I’ve often felt that organizations actively discourage courage: policies and systems make speedy action and change of course harder than they are for an individual.

But this study by Ryan Quinn and Monica Worline comes up with a couple of ideas that in the abstract seem like no-brainers, yet as I looked at the applications, I could see tremendous possibilities. For people within a team to be more courageous, it’s important to:
*have good relationships with other people inside and outside the organization
*have information that argues for their action being brave rather than foolhardy.

An example: brave people who crashed their own flight on 9/11 first talked with family members by cell phone. They knew from those people on the ground what their situation was, and they had their relationships to help them bear up.

Even working alone, I find that making a call like that helps me. An embarrassingly petty example: when I sat down to write my first assignment for Travel & Leisure magazine, I called my friend novelist and screenwriter Randee Russell, who said: you can do it. Then I put on fresh lipstick, called her back again and reported this progress. She said again: you can do it. Then I did.

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