What has courage got to do with Authentic Leadership or working in STEMM?
Courage is defined in the dictionary as “The ability to do something that frightens one; or bravery” or “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Brené Brown describes courage as: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” This incorporates the concept of being whole hearted in whatever you do – we call this living an Authentic Life and leading yourself and others from a place of openness, honesty, transparency and genuineness.
When we have to “play the game” of STEMM as a researcher, academic, executive, clinician, or educator, then how does courage fit in? Surely, we must follow the rules, go with the flow, repeat the same patterns of work and team behaviour, as has always been.
There are so many rules and systems we MUST adhere too. A specific unwritten code that we must embrace and meet if we are to be successful with grants, funding collaborations, project outcomes, publications, research outputs and any other metrics that we MUST meet.
But do we?
Where is the room to be Authentic? To have courage? To persevere and withstand danger?
We can be courageous in the little things to start with – saying no to something when it is detrimental to our health or other people’s rights. We can set a boundary in place that we can consistently enforce.
Planning, preparing and conducting a courageous conversation with someone. One where we go into the situation with the intention to have a win, win, win; and courage to make it happen.
The courage to put our hand up and ask a question, or question the status quo when we believe it is not just or fair. The courage to speak to someone we see as “higher” than us, or been too scared to talk with about our ideas.
The courage to apply for that job you would love, that you thought was out of reach. The courage to supervise a student, mentor a colleague, complete that application for the role or funding that scares you! Scares you a lot or even just a little. Time for COURAGE!
These moments of stretch are the times we have the biggest learnings about ourselves.
To stay stuck in the fear is to stunt our own career, pathway or exciting progress forward.
We need courage every day. To challenge the beliefs we think about ourselves or our limitations that hold us back, to challenge unjust processes, systems and expectations that are embedded in STEMM, to step into amazing opportunities where we only have a little tiny seed of faith that we can succeed. Courage to leap in and do. To fail. To make mistakes. To learn and continue to grow.
These opportunities to use our courage is all around us. To leap into the unknown, the unfamiliar wholeheartedly and edge or launch towards even greater heights that you are absolutely capable of!