Finding the Courage to Start

Courage Rosa Parks

Courage Marie Daly.png

Faith is taking first step_King

This month’s theme is “small courageous conversations” because fear, and not hate, is the opposite of love.

Courage is often described not as an absence of fear, but as the ability to act in the face of fear.

The science of courage tells us that we are better off taking small courageous steps and building a HABIT of courage – than planning large courageous acts that are too daunting to attempt.

Science has also shown that we are better able to overcome our fear when we link small courageous acts with organizational or personal values. By being value-driven, our courageous acts become moral or ethical acts – bolstering our determination to act.

It is also important to remember that courageous conversations are not a synonym for “conflict conversations”. Asking for something we need, getting feedback about our work from an ally, or reaching out to get support are all examples of small courageous conversations.


As a personal example, one series of small courageous conversations I have been practicing this month is asking people for feedback on a Restorative System model I have been working on for almost a year. The model is a wheel with 12 spokes which describes 12 commitments that can help people create a more restorative organization or classroom. Ironically, shifting to seeing feedback as a “gift” is one of the first commitments.

As you can see below – another commitment is “trying small courageous conversations.”

Breaking Good Feb 9 2019
Restorative Wheel PDF

Receiving honest feedback on our work is a courageous act for many of us, especially when we are trying out something new.

Becoming clear about how the model was linked to my values helped me gather the courage to start bringing it into the light. Specifically, one of my value-driven goals is to “nurture the creation of restorative systems”. This means that in addition to coaching individuals to be more skilled with conflict and communication – I want (very much!) to support the creation of restorative organizations and classrooms.

By thinking of the model as something that was clearly yoked to my personal values, I gained the courage to start showing it to one person, then another, and finally to whole groups of people. This resulted in great feedback and many improvements to the model – which further supported my goals and values – and boosted my courage to keep going.

In this way, small courageous steps can help us practice “couraging” and build our courage muscles.

What are some of your value-driven goals?

What are some small courageous steps you can take this month to support these goals?

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Still looking for last minute Valentine’s Day gifts?

Try a gift that has been shown to increase happiness (reprinted from 2018):

Which Gifts Increase Happiness_2018

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Get small group mentoring with Dominic Barter, Kay Pranis, Joe Brummer, and others working on restorative justice in schools and communities.

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