Do you have Professional Courage

by Tom Carroll

Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics:

Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.

And for a great example how it applies to our professional lives watch Ben Horowitz explain the importance of courage in his interview with Kevin Rose. His explanation starts at 17:50 but I recommend watching the entire interview. Ben Horowitz is brilliant and if you don’t believe me try reading his blog.

Within companies there is always talk of openness, honesty, integrity and many more virtues. How often do you hear courage being discussed. I wrote about the Steve Yegge’s approach to presenting to Jeff bezos. Steve describes his source of courage, he writes:

I worked hard and had fun, but every day I honestly worried they might fire me in the morning. Sure, it was a kind of paranoia. But it was sort of healthy in a way. I kept my resume up to date, and I kept my skills up to date, and I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning.

His courage came from believing he had nothing to lose. He could suffer a fate no worse then being fired.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting and former member of the U.S. High Diving Team has a good article on courage , he writes:

courage is the lifeblood of such important business concepts as leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. Indeed, in the absence of courage, these concepts don’t exist!

It is not often you see or hear of courage in a professional setting. No one has an annual objective to demonstrate courage, but in the end we all must possess it and demonstrate it. Without courage, we would be full of honesty, openness and integrity but with no willingness to act.

Courage first and then everything else.