For some, a job change can be a no-brainer. For others, accepting a new job is a very serious, intimidating decision. It is not uncommon for professionals to freeze and ask themselves, “Is this the best move I can make to advance my career?”
A few months ago, I found myself sitting in a glass-encased boardroom contemplating my own future. Although I faced a responsible dose of fear, I also felt a sense of excitement. After working in accounting and finance for 17 years (10 of which I was loyal to one company), I found myself considering not only a new job, but a new career. The decision to make the change was calculated and measured, but yet still scary.
As I sat alone at my future employer’s conference table contemplating what felt at the moment to be my biggest ‘life decision’ yet, the President of the company walked into the boardroom and handed me a yellow lined sheet of paper. Scribbled on the page was simply, “Jan 27.” He quickly walked out and exclaimed, “Be there!” I didn’t know what Jan 27th was all about, but I knew it was 5 days after my start date with the firm, that I had to go… and there was a promise of wine.
What I came to find out is that the inspirational speaker, Cindy Solomon had agreed to meet with my new company’s female leadership team for a lady’s lunch & chat on January 27th. A lunch of this intimate size is uncommon for Cindy. She can usually be found on stages presenting to audiences of 5,000+.
As beautifully plated salads of caramelized beets and mixed baby greens were placed in front of us, we listened to Cindy share tidbits of how to be more courageous women in the workplace.
“Know your strength, be specific!”
“Sitting at the table isn’t enough, lead with the punchline!”
“Courage is personal, it can be learned”
“but courage is the ability to move ahead in spite of fear”
I found myself identifying with her recommendations all too well. After almost two decades, I had just left a world which was comfortable and cozy to me. With the opportunity being so new, I constantly was asking myself if I had truly made the right decision.
As the lunch continued, Cindy moved on to discuss one of the most important concepts of professional development… courage. When people think of courage most simply think of it as a singular concept. By definition, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” What I did not realize was that the concept of courage can be categorized into 4 distinct types:
- Blind Courage – Close your eyes and jump courage
- Role Courage – I’ve been trained how to do this courage. I can run into a fire because I am a trained fireman courage.
- Crisis Courage – Oh, crap a bus is about to hit me, I better run courage.
- Core Courage – What’s fundamentally at the core of you … do you innately avoid change and turmoil in life or do you have the disposition to step up to the plate at difficult times?
After listening to Cindy provide examples and elaborate upon each type of courage, she encouraged us to evaluate which types of courage we tapped into on a routine basis. I immediately recognized that I was frequently tapping into Role Courage at my new job. Having worked in finance and accounting so long, I understood the job opportunity my new employer was recruiting for. I had been both a candidate and a hiring manager in the past and despite applying my knowledge of the industry in a new context, I was able to do the job as a result of Role Courage. I had the technical skills, I simply had to apply them.
What I didn’t realize until I had spent more time in my new role and took time to reflect is that everything about my new life was also the result of some Blind Courage and Core Courage. It was hard to make this career shift. Calculated and measured, yes (as any career accountant would do), but a leap of faith nonetheless. Staying the course of my previous career for a couple more decades would have been much easier and predictable. But it would have also been a shying away from possibility and the chance to explore a new path.
Now that you’ve heard my story, I challenge you to evaluate which types of courage you rely on in your day-to-day life and when making critical decisions (such as switching jobs). Once you understand which form of courage you rely upon most often, you can be conscious of how you utilize courage in everyday situations. Not only will evaluating your own courage prevent stress when making critical life decisions, it will instill a sense of confidence in the decision you made.
About Cindy Solomon
For more than two decades, widely admired leadership expert, author, and keynote speaker Cindy Solomon has helped Fortune 1000 companies around the world cultivate Courageous Leaders and customer-focused cultures.
With her signature razor-sharp wit, Cindy goes beyond battlefield analogies and sports metaphors to deliver real-life business stories and actionable advice on next-generation leadership and service excellence in today’s customer-driven economy.
Keynote attendees and workshop participants praise Cindy for providing new and relevant information that can be immediately applied to their daily work routines. Business leaders consistently express amazement at the fast and lasting results they see both in their corporate cultures and against the bottom line. Past and present clients include: Oracle, Cisco, Google, Salesforce, Raytheon, Wells Fargo, UPS, PWC, The Ritz-Carlton, Pfizer, and hundreds more.
Cindy is also a bestselling author on the topic of leadership. Her current books include The Courage Challenge Workbook for corporate employees and The Rules Of Woo, the customer service guide for entrepreneurs and business owners that built a cult following among corporate managers.