“My intent is not to shame or blame. My intent is to create awareness.” – CB Bowman
I had the joy of speaking with CB Bowman, MBA, the host of the “Courage: To Leap & Lead” LinkedIn Live & podcast, and a Certified Master Corporate Executive Coach with 20+ years of experience working in marketing, coaching, and branding.
CB helps executives and entrepreneurs tackle complex problems with simple solutions by viewing failures as success and using courage as a daily driver.
Courage means more than facing adversity and running into burning buildings. You can find courage in everyday events and use it to your advantage.
“My definition of courage is the ability to act—that's it. To say yes or no and move forward despite adversaries, and despite supporters,” CB shares, “so to me, somebody who is riddled in pain, to get up out of bed every day, is courage.”
Being courageous can look like being honest with a friend in a respectful way, and risking the friendship out of care for the other person. Tactful honesty is courageous. Speaking one's mind is courageous.
“We have to change our mindset about what courage is, and we have to applaud ourselves for being courageous.” CB continues.
Daily life takes courage in ways we don’t always recognize. It takes courage to act despite hesitations and the fear of failure.
CB knows what it feels like to face discrimination in the workplace. That unfortunate reality can manifest in small interactions. For CB, one such occurrence was an unwarranted correction from a team member regarding a group email announcement.
This coworker then turned around and sent out a group email at a later date, despite instructing CB that it was not the proper way to convey information.
They defended their actions by pointing to the book recommendation within the mass email.
“I wrote back, and I said exactly these words, ‘This is quite interesting, and I'm going to share this with you, and not with the rest of the group. But your act could be considered racism because you allowed yourself to do what you told me I should not do. And you created a reason that made your act okay. So what is that that's going on inside of you, whatever it is, I'm okay with it. But you need to know that this is my reaction.’” CB explains.
If you felt uncomfortable reading that, ask yourself why. We all have intrinsic biases and unconscious assumptions and share a responsibility to recognize them from situation to situation.
“Being courageous about sharing my reaction doesn't mean that it's true. It doesn't mean that other people won't see it that way. But I'm sharing with you that you need to hold responsibility for how people are going to perceive your behavior.” CB continues.
By using courage and speaking to the issue right at that moment, the possibility for growth rises. Stewing on an uncomfortable or hurtful interaction does no good—creating awareness tactfully and genuinely about how someone's actions come across is what contributes to positive change.
We must embrace honest, truthful conversations. After all, our actions and emotions are our responsibilities and are some of the only aspects of life we have control over.
What may make perfect sense to us may be vastly confusing for others because they don't have insight into our reasons and thought processes, and vice versa. Developing the skill of speaking up for clarification takes courage, and likewise, it takes guts to admit that we’re wrong sometimes.
Corporate America can be a quagmire of good-intentioned missteps that do more harm than good. But when people embrace everyday courage and adopt courageous habits in their life, change is possible.
What are some areas in your life you want to show more courage? When have you felt the most courageous?