Ten Concepts that Obsess Me Now: #10, Do You have Quiet Courage?

It’s taken me several weeks to decide how to end this ten-part “Obsess” series. As I contemplated various approaches, I kept coming back to the idea that for each of us, every choice is driven by courage (or the lack of it). Whether it’s brushing one’s teeth late at night when dog-tired, confronting a co-worker over some ticklish annoyance, or cleaning the garage when TV entices: to some degree or another, courage comes into play.

Courage is not often overt. Usually it’s quiet.

So, I’ll end the series with this train of thought which, like the Point of Sale concept that I discussed in Part One, permeates all ten essays: When there are no supporting statistics, or when one just doesn’t feel motivated, or when immediate fire-killing seems overwhelming, it takes courage to push through to do the things that must be done.

And let’s take this to the next logical conclusion: In the moment, no matter how difficult, an adult does what must be done.

Taking action when procrastination or outside influences suggest one do otherwise is what I call, “quiet courage.”

In the colloquial, relying on one’s guts separates the men from the boys. Here are excerpts from the chapter entitled Quiet Courage, from Work the System.

Quiet Courage
People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.
—Hermann Hesse

Although there are many possible technical excuses for failure, it is a lack of what I call quiet courage that often precedes a downfall.

What is quiet courage? It’s unadorned action and is the opposite of procrastination. A lack of quiet courage incites an error of omission. Quiet courage resides deep inside and causes one to buck up to do what needs to be done whether one wants to or not. Founded on internal fortitude, it is made real by self-discipline.

Yes, for certain it’s there inside you, but sometimes it might go into hiding.

Understanding the concept is, no surprise, just a matter of digging a little deeper. Here are some demonstrations of quiet courage:

  • As a parent, facing the misbehaving child in the evening with the same fairness and respect that was given to the child in the morning when the parent was rested and fresh.
  • Going to work on a day when one just doesn’t want to go to work.
  • Facing up to a dead-end situation and taking action to address it once and for all.
  • Exercising on a regular basis.
  • Apologizing.
  • Taking on a long-term, frustrating project and finding it more drain­ing than expected, but carrying on to finish anyway.
  • Walking away from an argument with someone who is unreasonable.
  • Living up to an agreement when it is more convenient to make excuses not to.
  • Taking extra time to train an employee when the day is busy.
  • Making a necessary organizational change when sitting still would be more acceptable to everyone else around you.
  • You knew this was coming: taking the time to create a Strategic Objec­tive and a set of General Operating Principles, not to mention starting to put together a collection of Working Procedures.

The quiet-courage scenarios that escape notice are in contrast to the occasional overt gallant acts that earn instant recognition, such as chal­lenging the boss with a delicate subject, approaching a neighbor with a legitimate but potentially inflammatory complaint, or removing the delin­quent young adult from the house.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of overt courageous acts. The more, the better. But never underestimate the damage caused by timo­rous avoidance.

Steady doses of quiet courage, combined with your system-improve­ment strategy, will take you where you want to go.

Ten Concepts That Obsess Me Now
Part 1, Point of Sale
Part 2, Critical Thinking Search and Rescue
Part 3, A Business is a Dispassionate Machine
Part 4, Hyper-Efficiency Via Total Inbox
Part 5, Emailed Voice Mail (EVM)
Part 6, Thinking Slow, Moving Fast
Part 7, Deal Killers and the Main Machine
Part 8, The Simple Key to Double Sales and Create Raving Fans
Part 9, The Tail Wagging the Dog Syndrome

Part 10, Do You Have Quiet Courage?