Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

The Value of Courage

I have been doing a lot of reading about fear and failure, which has lead me to learn more about shame and courage. Its been a facinating journey  – one which I was totaly unprepared for 🙂

I expected to read and learn about these emotions and then reflect on how they exist in agile environments and how we can use them. This has happened, but how these learning have crept into my personal life was a bit of a surprise. What was meant to be mostly theoretical exercise has turned into a personal journey of discovery.

And its been a bit of a roller coaster ride 🙂

This post is about Courage.

Its one of the Scrum Values and also one of the XP values. When ever I think about courage I cant help but think of the yellow brick road and the cowardly lion 🙂

Courage: Have the courage to commit, to act, to be open, and to expect respect (Schwaber and Beedle 2001).

Courage: Have the courage it takes to develop good software, which may mean throwing away code and changing direction, even late in development. What’s to say that you won’t ever develop yourself into a corner? Courage (Beck and Andres 2004).

Courage seems to be best thought of as the ability to take action in spite of fear. I dont think its binary: you’re either courageous or not. Rather courage is something you embrace or not at a specific moment. Its a conscious decision that gets made every time you face fear. One day, one moment you can be full of courage, and another time not.

Is it possible to always be courageous? I dont know… are any of you?

Courage is tiny pieces of fear all glued together.  ~Terri Guillemets

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
– Ambrose Redmoon

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.
– Mark Twain

When last did you act with courage? What was the fear you faced head on? What about your friends? Your colleagues? Do you acknowledge your courage? Do they? Do you acknowledge their courage?

I acted with courage yesterday and admitted something to a friend. But I don’t have the courage to do this online 🙂 So maybe courage can also happen in stages. Its easier with people you feel safe enough to be vulnerable with. Much more difficult when that trust doesnt exist.

As a scrum master I need to cultivate courage… courage to be imperfect, courage to set boundaries and courage to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. How do you (or your company) cultivate courage?


6 responses to “The Value of Courage

  1. Markus Gärtner February 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Jerry Weinberg mentions in More Secrets of Consulting that he has a courage stick, a token which reminds him to overcome his fear. For that, FEAR is merely Fantasy Experienced As Reality.

    The reason for courage on early Agile teams lied in overcoming the furniture police with ridiculous cubicle work places, and to tear down the walls that spread colleagues from each other. In most companies I have been to this wasn’t an issue – any more.

    But you’re right, there are also occassions when I get reminded on my courage stick, and need to step up, and do something more important than fearing the consequences of not doing it.

  2. Pingback: Fear « The Narrative Imperative: Tell Stories or Die

  3. Pingback: Courage « creatingreciprocity

  4. Nancy McLeod August 8, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Thanks for your blog about this. It really resonated with me.

    I had read a line saying, “The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.” Wanting more joy in my life, I am thinking that maybe fear/shame (vs. courage) is what makes some things a struggle.

  5. Pingback: Courage | Make everyday Outstanding

  6. Pingback: Courage - creatingreciprocity

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