Courage is the ability of an archetype to step out of the boundaries of their previous experiences when the occasion calls for it. An important dynamic, courage is commonly seen in pioneers and nomads.
One the surface, it may seem like a simple enough process- to bring out the courage in you and lead the organization through a changing phase. But what’s to understand here is that the process implies a significant leap from fear to courage.
Fear and courage are innate to humans. In the present context, the fear is born from the all- too-human inclination to stay within a comfort zone.
From past experiences, you build up knowledge and skills. But it’s quite easy for us to fall into the trap of staying in a comfort zone which we are familiar with. It takes a willful effort to surpass this trend of the self, and break the boundary of the comfort zone.
For outside that zone is where the next destination in the changing process lies. And to reach there, courage is necessary.
Past experiences create a comfort zone within which we may prefer to function
A terrific example of an individual finding his courage and rising to the occasion is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. While he is rightly revered as the Father of the Indian nation, what’s often forgotten is that he was in many ways an ordinary man when he began to take an active interest in the freedom struggle.
He lacked political or significant economic power. And yet, he expressed his courage not just as an individual, but as someone capable of leading an entire nation under a unified vision- the vision of freedom.
The first seed of protest was sown in his mind when he was thrown out of a train by the authorities because of racial discrimination in South Africa. From there, through episodes that saw him becoming a political prisoner in India, a non-violent fighter for freedom and a symbol of hope for millions around the world, Gandhi showed willful courage to step out of his comfort zone many times over. And every time, his courage was at the service of the bigger container- the Indian subcontinent itself.
Another example of someone gaining courage in the direst of situations could be found in Indian mythology. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, faced with an army comprised of cousins, uncles and teachers, the great warrior Arjun loses heart. But enlightened by his charioteer, Krishna, he finds his courage, realising that it’s his duty as a warrior to engage in battle- regardless of who his opponents were.
In the modern context, fortunately for many organizations, they have pioneers and nomads in the team who have ample courage which they display at the appropriate times.
Now, the attribute of courage- as you have seen- isn’t fickle. In fact, it’s one of the strongest dynamics there is. And this brings us to the negative side of this dynamic. For courage, if not well-guided, could lead not to success but to self- sabotage.
How does that happen? What’s the tipping point at which courage mutates from something useful to something dangerous?
Courage takes the change agent on paths rarely traversed
The simple answer is when the archetype lets the element of arrogance which comes with courage overpower him or her. Then, the whole deal becomes about the archetype, and the organizational transformation itself becomes secondary. Meaning, failure.
Such kind of arrogance arises when the archetype identifies strongly with the individual ego. Now, the ego is a rather complex entity- made of multiple factors like the awareness of your own body and your existence and also all the information that’s encoded as memory. The archetype then begins to see courage as an attribute born exclusively out of this ego-complex, forgetting the external factors- including teachers, peers and favorable circumstances that fostered the courage in the first place.
All this is to say that another dynamic has to be in place to ensure that the archetype’s courage doesn’t turn dangerous. And that dynamic is called grace.
Grace would be discussed in the next blog post.
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Temenos Vision Lab- Toronto, Canada( June 8, 2018)
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TrustTemenos Adventure Gathering 2018- Frankfurt, Germany( Sep 28, 2018)
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Temenos Effect Gathering 2018- Bengaluru, India(Nov 22 to Nov 25, 2018)
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