The “B” in BRAVE stands for Bold. That’s what we need to be if we hope to exercise leadership with backbone and heart. It’s not enough to be NICE. We also have to take our stand, speaking the truth in love until we find ourselves in a toleration-free zone. Take heart. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
For more than two years I have worked with a wonderful coach from Australia named Christine McDougall. You can visit her at http://www.christinemcdougall.com. Christine has a very different take on the concept of being NICE than the one I took in my most recent series. All too often, in the name of being NICE, people fail to speak the truth because they fear what other people will think or feel.
To illustrate this problem, Christine has created her own acronym for NICE: N (Nothing) I (Inside Me) C (Cares) E (Enough About You) to risk my speaking the truth in love. That’s the connotation I want to counterbalance with my new series on BRAVE. Properly understood, NICE is not about smoothing ruffled feathers or being agreeable. And there’s certainly nothing NICE about failing to speak the truth, although I recognize that as being in the common parlance of the word.
In my own recent series, I tried to redeem the word by describing NICE in terms of courageously acting Neighborly (N), being Interested (I), feeling Compassion (C), and employing Etiquette (E). For all my facility with the English language, coaching people to be NICE left me feeling a bit like the novelist Aldous Huxley, who once observed, “It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.'”
What people don’t always understand is how much bravery it takes to “try to be a little kinder.” We received two vigorous critiques of last week’s guest Provision, for example, because of the author’s obvious sympathies for certain peoples around the world. It’s not easy to be NICE to those who’ve done wrong or been otherwise ostracized by society. That takes either foolishness or courage.
But in the end, whatever you choose to call it, it takes a measure of chutzpah to exercise leadership with backbone and heart. We need to be Bold. And that, I suggest, is a great place to start in the acronym for BRAVE.
The need for boldness comes up all the time in the establishment and maintenance of healthy boundaries. I covered this in a Provision in early September (Click). Boundaries, according to Coach University, are “imaginary lines that we establish around ourselves to protect our souls, hearts, and minds from the unhealthy or damaging behavior of others.” Inform, request, demand, and leave was the four-step process they prescribe for working with boundaries in the context of human relationships.
LifeTrek coaches have assisted many clients with the issue of boundaries. Sometimes we assist clients to draw the lines. Other times we assist them to implement the four-step process until every single person in their lives is unconditionally and universally constructive. That’s a tall order, but it can be achieved in far less time than most people imagine. And it all starts with being bold.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of two skeletons hanging in the corner of a closet who were grumbling about the heat, dust, and boredom. “What are we staying here for anyhow?” one asked. “Darned if I know,” the second skeleton answered. “I’d leave here in a minute if I had any guts.”
A silly anecdote, to be sure, which nevertheless illustrates a fundamental dynamic that keeps many people stuck in destructive rhythms, ruts, and relationships. They don’t have the guts to stand up for themselves or for others. They know what they should say or do, but they never actually say or do it. An extreme example of this resistance is the fact that the average physically-abused partner is abused seven times before they change their circumstances.
There is tremendous human inertia that works against extraordinary change. There is much that intimidates and silences people. In their book “How The Way We Talk Can Change The Way We Work,” Kegan and Lahey identify this resistance to change as the starting point in their work with individuals and organizations. “We listen hard,” they write, to determine “what people really want and what they will do to keep from getting it.” They describe this dynamic as a hidden immune system, “by which we manufacture continuously the antigens of change.”
LifeTrek coaches often work with people to disrupt this hidden immune system, this natural resistance to change. We assist people to find their voice and courageously speak their truth. In short, we assist people to be bold. As people become incredibly clear about what they want, they are empowered to be bold even when the patterns are longstanding or the risks are high. They are motivated and enabled to change.
That is where bravery and boldness always start: in knowing what we want. The undecided cannot be bold. In relationships as in politics and life, it takes knowing what we want in order to create a toleration-free zone in which to live and work.
Do not be afraid to envision and live the life you love. Clarify your thinking and act accordingly. Be true to yourself and the world will call you brave.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Reader’s Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. These selections do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. They do reflect the diversity of those who read Provisions each week for support and strength on the trek of life. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
I wish all Americans were as logical as you.
It is a shame that your newsletter would turn into a political forum. No matter what the personal feelings of a Chicago zealot, it should NOT be aired within this type of newsletter.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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