January gave the opportunity to the Works for Women community to give pause and think about how they are going to characterize the work they do in 2018. The challenge, simply stated, was to choose one word that you could use to remind yourself of how you were going to show up, to be your best self, to drive change, and to pave the way for optimism to ensure that all have equal opportunities for advancement. We heard words like Powerful, Ambitious, Visionary, Strong, Resilient, to name a few – all well suited words to make 2018 a year of progress, and a year for women.
We now turn our attention to our next challenge.
February Challenge – Courage
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant 'To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.' Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as 'ordinary courage'." - Brene' Brown
As many of you may already know, February is the month of the heart. The Old French definition of courage refers to the heart as the seat of feelings. Works for Women is asking you to mark this month by turning inwards to identify and reflect on your courage and the courage of others. Allow yourself to feel the courage in your heart.
When we dive deeper into the topic of courage, vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, and rising skills are all pillars of courageous leadership. Brené Brown, author, storyteller, and research professor at the University of Houston defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Leaders exhibit courageous leadership when they’re willing to be vulnerable—they’re “all in”—even though it means they may fail or get hurt. Contrary to popular opinion, vulnerable leadership isn’t soft or weak. Brown says vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness When you choose to engage in courageous leadership, you will have critics and haters. Trust is at the heart of true courageous, vulnerable relationship. Many people assume trust “just happens,” but that’s not how trust works in reality. Trust is built through the intentional use of specific behaviors, and you can teach people how to become more trustworthy and better trust builders with others. To effectively build trust in a team or organization, it requires everyone to have a common definition of trust.
To join the February Challenge:
As Brené Brown shared with us, courageous leadership is not comfortable. You will fall and skin your knee. But courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. This month we challenge you to look within – to start to challenge your inner dialogue. To be the successful leaders we want to be, we must challenge ourselves to be courageous in driving change. We look forward to hearing your stories of courage and how they will help drive you to the next stage in your career.
If you want to dive a bit deeper into the topic of courage, here are some great resources:
In closing, thank you again for helping to spark dialogue, build awareness, and inspire action. We are reminded that change does not happen overnight, but by uniting our community we can take direct action to impact change. On behalf of Works for Women, thank you for helping us drive change in Alberta.