True story. Once upon a time, in an elevator ride somewhere inside the corporate offices of Caesars Entertainment, the doors opened up on a certain floor unveiling a sign that read, “Risk Management Department.” I turned to my client who had become a friend and instantly spouted, do you have a “Courage Management” department?
While I was joking in the moment, this little observation should be no laughing matter for most organizations.
Most corporations are focused on mitigating risk. When they do this, perhaps unbeknownst to them, they are also mitigating courage. Those who are risk-averse are inadvertently courage-averse. And, for those companies where risk has been readily accepted in business, courage in business has often been disappointingly rejected. Most businesses have regular meetings in which they talk about risk. Rarely do you see discussions about courage. We need to return the word courage back where it belongs—in the business lexicon.
Myron Scholes is a former professor at Stanford, MIT, and the University of Chicago. He’s also an expert on risk, having won the Nobel Prize in economic science for his groundbreaking studies on the subject. “We all have a taste for it,” he says. “In life, it would be kind of boring if there was no risk. On the other hand, if there’s too much risk, too much uncertainty, too much chaos, we can’t handle it either. We simultaneously want order and disorder, simultaneously want risk and quiescence.” It’s time to reject the idea that courage has little to no role in the workplace and accept the necessary balancing act between risk and courage.
If courage is the accelerator, then risk is the brake pedal. You need them both to drive a car, but you can’t press them at the same time or the car won’t work. In the end, hitting the accelerator is what makes the car go. So the question becomes, “How hard should you hit the gas?” What we’re really talking about here is a willingness for calculated change. What if we could instill in you the necessary training to make courageous decisions in your business? What if you were empowered with the tools you needed to be a bold force for positive, evolving change in your workplace? It’s time you unlocked courage within your culture, your product, and your marketing. It’s critical you do everything in your power to make a relevant return now to the conversation. And why is this so critical for “right here, right now?”
How terrifyingly bad is it out there? I call it the Business Apocalypse. Fifty-two percent of the Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 are now extinct. That’s not a typo. In less than two decades, more than half of the brands that were on the Fortune 500 list in 2000 no longer exist. This number is expected to hold. We’re going to see an estimated 9000 brands rattle on and off the Fortune 500 over the next 6 Decades. So if courage isn’t for you, it’s for your competitor—one you see or don’t see—who isn’t afraid to make the necessary change to stay in the relevance game.
All that stated, Courage is most definitely for you. Courage is for your direct manager who may be suffering from symptoms of indecisiveness. Courage is for the CEO who is doing her best to navigate the leadership team, board of directors, or Wall Street. Courage is not something that should be used only by the most senior people in businesses—it is for your whole team and an essential advantage to be harnessed when taking on tomorrow’s tumultuous business landscape.
We’ve talked to tears in business about the importance of knowing your “why.” It’s important, no doubt. But once you have your why, what about the how? Whether you work for an established business with a critical, looming decision to make or a Silicon Valley start-up looking to set up a company the right way, I hope you will use the “how” that’s unveiled in Return On Courage to help you. Indeed, unlocking courage, when truly embraced and understood, can be your ultimate X factor. For any willing being or business who aspires to transform their business into, what I call, a Courage Brand®, it comes with a P.R.I.C.E. For one, if it were easy everyone would do it. Two, P.R.I.C.E., as you already surmised, is an acronym that, when followed, is the step-by-step plan that can help any company remove the silo that sits between organizational health and courageous business.
If you would like a step-by-step process on how to unlock courage, creativity and innovation in your business, pick up my book Return On Courage at Amazon. Or, reach out to me directly. I’ve been fortunate to share this framework with Google, Kellogg’s Europe, charity: water, Johnson & Johnson and many others. I’m happy to share more about the steps we take to transforming your business into a relevant, thriving Courage Brand®.
Ryan Berman is an author, keynote speaker and the founder of Courageous; a create-the-change company that builds and leads Courage Brands®. Ryan has helped install courage in the stories and culture at Google, Kellogg’s Europe, charity: water, Major League Baseball, Snapchat, Johnson & Johnson, Cereal Partners Worldwide and US Ski & Snowboard. His book ‘Return on Courage’ shows how during these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage for those leaders who choose to unlock it. Berman also has his own altruistic Courage Brand called Sock Problems: a sock company that “socks” different problems in the world.