Courage is often lauded as one of the most important characteristics a leader can possess. Many say that leadership is impossible without courage. But what happens when that courageousness is not informed by curiosity? You have recklessness.
Although the following statement is heretical in most of my circles, I think the mob that attacked the Capitol in January 2021, was courageous. They acted on the genuine belief that the election was stolen and that they were patriots. We praise that type of behavior in other countries when we see their complaints as legitimate. Note for example our reaction when thousands took to the streets of Belarus to protest the widely disputed reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko and events became violent. That seemed justified to us. But the behavior we witnessed on January 6, most certainly did not.
Terrorists or freedom fighters? How can we tell? The problem with the mob on January 6 was that while they had plenty of courage, they had no curiosity. They allowed themselves to be led without questioning. They were not curious about the safeguards in place for our elections; they were not curious about why the claims of fraud had been repeatedly dismissed by even conservative judges; they were not curious about the motivations of those invoking their behavior. They were not curious; they were certain.
There is a price to pay for acting courageously without curiosity. When that price is paid by others, blood (of one form or another) is typically shed. No matter the situation, I would argue that it is reckless and should never be the path of least resistance.
How do you know whether you are a terrorist, or a freedom fighter? The answer is the C²Factor—the synergistic application of both courage and curiosity. The need for courageous action today is undeniable as we grapple with the impact of the pandemic, the imperative to address social injustice, and the profound challenge of climate change. But before we run headlong into solution, we would do well to invoke curiosity. To ask ourselves:
- What is informing this action?
- Whose perspective has not been taken into consideration?
- What unintended consequences might result?
And a myriad of other questions. Our curiosity serves as the most powerful antidote to ignorance and recklessness. It pushes us to seek out information and challenge our assumptions.
Then we can head back to courage—having done the risk-benefit analysis — and take action.
Beginning with ourselves and expanding to our relationships, our teams, our organizations, and to the world, champion leaders use the C² Factor to live vibrant lives and sustain thriving organizations.
To engage your C²Factor and ensure that your courage is that of a champion, call me at 301-943-3074 or write me at Joanne.Irving@i2aa.com