Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear

I don’t like conflict. In fact, sometimes I think I am conflictaphobic. (I just made that word up.) I will do almost anything to avoid it.

Why Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Zemdega

As a result, especially early in my career, I would keep my real opinions to myself. I didn’t want to get in trouble. I thought that if I just complied with the system and kept my mouth shut, I would get ahead.

This was a pretty good strategy for a while. But it didn’t really work once people were counting on me to lead.

Why didn’t I want to speak up? I could feign altruism by saying, “I didn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.” But that would be a lie. The truth is that I was afraid. It was all about me.

  • I didn’t want to be embarrassed.
  • I didn’t want to lose face.
  • I didn’t want to be wrong.
  • I didn’t want others to think less of me.

So, I kept quiet. Funny thing is I kept finding myself in situations where I had to speak up. If I didn’t, someone would pay an awful price for my personal comfort.

Years ago, soon after I became head of one of our publishing divisions, I had to confront one of my authors. He was pleasant and cooperative when I spoke with him. But he was demanding, uncooperative, and downright nasty to my staff. Finally, one of them came to me in tears and said, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t take it any more.”

I had to make a choice.

I could let it go, hoping he would improve without intervention … or I could speak up. I wrestled with it all night. I tossed and turned. I got sick to my stomach. I played out every scenario.

Finally, things came into focus: I could either be brave and call him on it, or I could be a coward and stop growing as a leader.

Thankfully, I decided to confront him. The next morning I called his cell phone. I was shaking so much, I could barely hold the phone.

I went over the facts. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable. I explained that he would call each of my staff and apologize. He would then send flowers to the person he had offended the most. And if he didn’t? I would stop publication of his book and send him packing.

I was dead serious, and he knew it. To my surprise, he did exactly what I had asked.

I learned an important lesson that day. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.

My people also learned an important lesson. They learned that I was willing to stand up for them, even at the expense of my own comfort. It drew us closer together as a team.

Frankly, I still find it difficult to be brave. I don’t consider myself to be a courageous person. But now having several of these experiences under my belt, it is a little easier. Now I just notice the fear, pull up my big boy pants, and lean into the situation.

If I can do it, you can, too.

Question: Where do you need to find the courage to speak up? What’s holding you back? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Michael, this is an interesting post because I find that I also struggle with avoiding confrontation.  However, I’ve found that the longer I avoid it the bigger it gets and that by avoiding it I really create more confrontation for myself.  

    I also realized that I married someone who is not nearly as afraid of confrontation as I am.  I didn’t realized this until a year or two into our marriage and while you might think that this would cause problems in our marriage, it actually has had the opposite effect.  Thanks to my wife’s courage to confront confrontation head on I have also become much better at it.

    Nevertheless I still struggle from time to time. I find that the area I struggle most is in the relationships closest to me.  I don’t have a problem with confronting someone I hardly know but when it comes to confronting a person I have know and worked with closely for 10-20 years, that’s a different story!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You’re not alone, Caleb. This is pretty common. I struggle too. I agree with you, though—the longer you wait, the bigger it gets. This motivates me to step up now.

    • BenHolbrook1

      Hi Caleb, I can relate. Like you I married someone who is a bit better at confrontation, this has also rubbed off on me. I too find it more difficult to be direct with closer friends… it feels like it should be the opposite! engaging in conflict is an area for me to keep aware of, as is giving myself Grace when I realise maybe I didn’t speak up

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        Ben, I always say that marriage is the best possible tool God gave us for personal growth! 

    • http://www.ciriongroup.com/ Hunter Hodge

      I totally agree, Caleb! It is easier for me to confront people I don’t know but I just can’t bear to confront loved ones! Any recommendations from your experience or things you’ve learned from your wife? That’s awesome that she makes you better – that’s how marriage should be!

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        Hunter, I think the thing that stands out to me is that she doesn’t wait. I always want to give things a little more time in hopes that it will go away or some how get better.  There have been many circumstances when she felt that the situation needed to be addressed immediately and I thought otherwise.  I’d say that most of the time she was right! Deal with it while it’s still little and you don’t have to deal with it when it’s big!

        I think one of the biggest reasons I avoid the conflict is because I am afraid that it will push the person away from me.  However, I have noticed that about 95% of the time when I confront a problem it actually strengthens my relationship with that person.  Of course there is that 5% but you’re probably going to loose that person no matter what!

        I hope that was helpful Hunter!

    • Shelley Hess

      AMEN, Caleb!  The closer, and longer term the relationship, the more difficult, it seems, in my experience!  Michael provides great perspective here to help with that challenge!

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        Thanks for the Amen Shelley, you’re a blessing!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I could use it in our current situation at work. There’s a lot of things going on and a real lack of communication. It’s driving me crazy and coworkers crazy.

    It’s difficult and scary because that would mean talking to the owner and letting him know the feelings of those in the company. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What would you do if you were brave, Joe? (That’s the question I ask myself.)

      • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

        Great thought, Mike.

    • http://www.justinbuck.blogspot.com/ Justin Buck

      As a business leader, let me encourage you to speak up. For years, we missed the insight of a key player in our organization because he was afraid or unwilling to bring problems over the head of our management team. Now that he speaks more freely, our company is more efficient and effective.

  • http://www.ericdingler.com/ Eric Dingler

    I’m at the point of one of these conversations.

    Last summer as camp ended, our Chef wasn’t going to be able to return for this summer.  Which made our food and beverage director happy.  She mentioned, she was really struggling with the idea of returning next summer if “he” was coming back.  Normally, I wouldn’t let a comment like that go.  But, summer was over, the Chef wasn’t coming back and I just didn’t want to deal with it.  So I said, “I understand, but you don’t have to worry about it, he isn’t coming back.” 

    On his way out of camp, the Chef shared, “Even though I can’t come back next year, I don’t think I would want to if she was going to still be the food and beverage director”. I just agreed and let it go.

    Last week, guess who submits a returning staff application?  The Chef and the F&B Director.  The issue is, I want them both back for lots of reasons.  They make a perfect team.  He is the most talented and passionate whole-foods Chef we’ve had.  She is the most organized and budget conscience F&B Director I’ve had.   

    But, since I didn’t deal with this issue last summer, I have to deal with it now.  It’s going to require a tough and uncomfortable conversation.  But, I’m leaning toward, if they both can’t agree to fix their issues, I’ll rehire neither of them.  The main issue is a power-struggle and we can fix it.  

    I’m afraid though of not getting either of these two back on staff.  It would be easier to pass this on to my assistant director, just rehire both without consulting the other, making the F&B Director feel guilty and “bullying” her into working with this guy, or many other ideas I’ve had. But none of that is the right way to handle this. 

    I’m really not looking forward to this conversation.  I’ve whined all weekend about this to my wife, thanks for reminding me that I need to just accept it, “pull up my big boy pants” and deal with the issue.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this story, Eric. It is such a great opportunity to grow your own leadership—and theirs. You can take yourself and your camp to a whole new level.

  • http://twitter.com/swoodruff Steve Woodruff

    Wonderful story. I can relate – I dislike confrontation. When we look at the lives of the prophets in the Scriptures, it’s astounding what level of confrontation they had to go through – with leaders and entire nations. Talk about sleepless nights! But the same courage to face down a king is what we need to lead our kids, or deal with bad behavior in the workplace.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Good thought Steve on bringing it back to scripture.  

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    I’ll bet it’s 10 times easier now for you Michael. Or at least a little easier. 

    It probably became instantly easier the very next time.

    That’s the way it has been for me. 

    I don’t know that I ever FOUND the courage to confront someone the first time. I can remember back to a specific time years ago with a direct report who was having some issues with other team members. He was also older than me and very valuable. But he was toxic. Like you, I tossed and turned the night before and tried to back out multiple times. 

    Finally it was almost 5:00pm when I talked to him. I certainly wasn’t strong, but I did it. I told him what he needed to know. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable, needed to change and that if it didn’t the consequences were _____ (not working here anymore was one of them).

    The next time it was a little easier. 

    And the next time.

    So now I find courage in the fact that I have done it before. 

    I find courage in experience.

    But I had do it the first time.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So true, Matt. It does get easier—never easy, but easier. The opposite is also true. If you don’t confront it, that get’s easier too. That’s why I am intent to act. I want to re-enforce who I want to become.

      • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

        I never thought of it that way but it is so true.

        It’s similar to sleeping in or not exercising. Every time you wake up early and workout, it gets easier to do them the next time. Every time you don’t…when you sleep in or skip a workout, it gets easier to do that and harder to wake up or run that first 1/10 of a mile.

  • annepeterson

    What holds me back in moments I need to confront? Somehow on my way there I get transported back to a land where I didn’t have a voice. It requires me focusing on the task at hand, reminding myself, I am not the little girl who was to be seen and not heard. 

    Despite obstacles, I was now a woman of dignity, whose opinion mattered. Until I learned this, my attempts at speaking my mind were abrupt and punchy at best. It’s hard to break your way out of a mould. Hard, but possible.Now, when confrontations are necessary, I remember even hard words can be swallowed if generously dipped in grace.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Anne. Your opinion does matter!

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    In 2012 I spoke up in a very uncomfortable situation.  I was very much afraid, because I wasn’t sure how those impacted would respond, and because it would impact a person’s job.  

    It was incredibly difficult, even though I knew it was the right thing to do.  After I filed my initial report, several others came in citing the same behavior I had witnessed and reported on.  

    Unfortunately fear caused others to wait and take no action.  However, the situation did allow a growing opportunity for our organization to reaffirm the value of feedback, even if it’s in a difficult space.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Great story. Courage is contagious.

    • http://financialplanningapprentice.com Robinson Mertilus

      Very encouraging to see that a difficult but needed response from you had a good outcome. You’ve helped the organization to grow.

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        The response could’ve really varied. I felt fortunate that it worked out the w

  • http://twitter.com/StuMcLaren Stu McLaren

    [hand raised]… I’m a “conflictaphobic” as well :P

    With that said, you learn a lot about yourself when you’re in these trick situations and what I’ve found, is that you gain a new level of respect when you take a stand.

    It’s been very strange to me why someone else would have more respect for someone after they stood up to them vs. before but I think it stems from what you said in this post…

    Intuitively, we all know that standing up to someone is scary (and 99% of us will avoid it).  So when we see someone do it, I think we immediately recognize the courage it took and therefore have more respect for that person because they acted despite the fear.

    Great post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Stu. I think that’s true. When I have been confronted, I am so grateful, knowing how much courage it took for the person to speak up. I try to honor that, even if I don’t agree with everything they say. These moments are rare and a wise leader will extract every bit of learning he can.

      • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

        Good point. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an individual who was confronting me about a situation they witnessed. I expressed that I was grateful for their courage to speak up.

        • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

          And that response encourages others to speak out in a constructive way in the future.  Otherwise there is a dark cloud, and under water issues like a festering sore.  A great nugget.

  • Bill Glos

    Rick Warren recently shared a great message on conflict resolution.  
    1.  Take initiative – time heals nothing
    2.  Confess my part of the conflict
    3.  Listen for the hurt
    4.  Consider their perspective
    5.  Tell the truth
    6.  Fix the problem, not the blame
    7.  Focus on reconciliation, not resolution

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great outline, Bill. Rick is always so practical.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      That outline is very helpful.  Thanks Bill. 

  • Marcelino Gauguin

    Thanks Michael, for sharing this beautiful account. It really felt relevant and very helpful.
    A comment on the photo, though. I really don’t like it. There is something terrifying about a disfigured face.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your input. I’m not thrilled with it either.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nike.chillemi Nike Chillemi

    Funny, I would’ve thought you were the most courageous of people.

    Good article. Thx for sharing something deep.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I thought the same.  

  • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

    I have a client that can be very negative. I’m afraid I will really hurt her feelings, and thatb she might not understand if I told her to stop being so negative.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You might, but you might also take her to an entirely new level and a new future. You might find this post helpful, Todd: Standing for the Greatness of Others.

      • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

        Thanks Michael.  I know you are right.  I commit to Standing in the Gap this week if it happens again.  I’ll let you know the outcome.

        Again – thanks for being so generous.

        PS – What Stand-up Desk do you use (off topic – sorry)  I need one!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I actually had mine custom made. It was half the price of the one I found online. I think I paid $1,500. It was exactly what I wanted. (I provide a tour of my office in a segment scheduled for Platform University.)

          • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

            I will check out the Platform U segment. I would also pay $1500 for a nice desk. Want to send me the contact? Thanks.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Can you come up with any occasions when she was positive, and your team experienced a positive result? If so, you could start the conversation with “I really love it when you’re positive…” Sometimes reinforcing an instance of success is a good opening.

      • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

        That’s great advice too.  And, “yes” I can do that ad well.

        ——– Original message ——–

  • http://www.dougsmithlive.com/ Doug Smith

    Michael, I couldn’t agree more. In the last year, I became a fundraiser for a non-profit. My job is to meet with our major donors and get them to increase their contributions. As a young leader, I am only 27, it can be extremely uncomfortable to be calling and connecting with men and women who are extremely successful, but I have used this principle to push me through the fears that hold me back. Thanks for letting us know that even the most successful people still have fears to overcome.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       It’s nice to know we’re not alone in this, isn’t it?

      • http://www.dougsmithlive.com/ Doug Smith

         Sure is Michele!

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    It looks like this one touched on an area of need for a lot of us – lots of interaction. That’s great!

    One of my favorite writings abut conflict is still chapter 3 of Jim Collins book, Good to Great in which he discusses the difference between rigorous and ruthless.Here’s what I have learned about handling conflict responsibly - http://www.michaelnichols.org/handling-conflict-responsibly. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      As an executive pastor, I’d imagine you have plenty of opportunities to practice this. :) Great post, by the way. Love the quote you ended with: “It’s better to win the relationship than win the conflict.” Avoiding the conflict is a guaranteed way to lose both.

      • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

        Thanks Michele – love the thought, Avoiding the conflict is a guaranteed way to lose both!

  • Heman Smith

    Michael, I hear you.  I identify, from the hands-shaking fear of confrontation  through the peaceful enjoyment of the resolution once the situation is addressed.

    I have to be careful though once I engage that I do not take on an inappropriate role of aggressor.  Keeping myself focused on the issue, or the behavior – and not the person – can sometimes be a challenge since ‘they hurt me or someone on my team’.  I’ve found it essential to continue to see them as my brother or sister, another child of God who is not acting as they are able.Thanks for sharing, for the courage.

  • http://www.businessandfaith.eu/ Sigbjorn

    I often feel as if we have got it all wrong. In my work with church ministry I had to confront people because of actions, deeds and words from time to time. It always felt like a nightmare and hard, but I knew it had to be done. It is a basic misunderstanding of what love is in the world today. So often we think of love as allowing everything and being tolerant. However the truth is that love takes action when it sees that things are not the way they are to be, and when it sees that the fruit of something is rotten, or will be destructive some time down the road.

    Instead of letting someone spread bad atmosphere in the office or in the church (even though that is easier because then you do not have to confront), it is much more worth to stand up and take a stand against it, even if it hurts. Just quote the word of Michael once more: “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.”

  • Jonathan Harrison

    Thank you sharing in such a very honest way – this authenticity on a personal level goes so far beyond the “act as if fear does not exist” advice that I have always had difficulty applying consistantly. I really appreciate your approach and find it very encouraging.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Jonathan – I agree the post was full authenticity and made the ready enjoyable and helpful! 

  • lhoenigsberg

    Hi Michael.  Were you writing about you or were you writing about me?  I don’t know…couldn’t tell the difference.  I have been known to hold it all in and then suddenly say something in a stronger way then I meant it too (all that pent up energy coming out) and literally shock the person.  But it’s not because I’m assertive, it’s because I’m terrified.  This is actually coming up today for me, as I have to tell the parent of a client to quit calling me on the weekends for every little thing. I did not set good boundaries right from the get-go, and now I pay.  Today I will be courageous, while my hand shakes as I make the call.  Thanks.

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       That’s my fear exactly; that I’ll just explode on someone. From experience, I’d just say to have some freedom in failing. Each time, it gets better; you learn something about yourself and take that into the next confrontation. You can do it :)

      • lhoenigsberg

        Thanks Aaron!  You’re an encourager!!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I had that very thing happen once. Because I delayed the conversation for too long (allowing my terror to build), my delivery was much more abrupt than I intended.

      • lhoenigsberg

        LOL.  There’s been a time or two in a meeting where I have sat there and not uttered a word because if I did I would either yell or cry!  It’s a growing thing. BTW. I made the phone call this morning…didn’t shake…came off healthy. I’m proud of myself! Thanks for encouraging!

        • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

           Nice work! You’re just going to get better every time and that call was the proof :)

          • lhoenigsberg

            Thanks Aaron!  Practice makes perfect…I act, therefore I am.  Have a blessed day!

  • Deanne

    I hate confrontation as well, but like you, have found that as a leader it is unavoidable.

    I find it most difficult to be courageous when it comes to writing. I have things to say and I want to write, but its easy to hide behind safe masks instead of being real, vulnerable and opinionated. 

    I love that you shared your fears. Those are my fears as well. Thanks for encouraging us to stand up and be bold.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks for making the connection to writing. We want our words to matter, but it’s such a challenge to push past comfort and be bold. Because what we write is “out there” forever and ever, I always feel a bit sobered about what I post.

  • Luizfbfs

    Michael, thank you for your post… ¡from a fellow conflitaphobic!

    It doesn’t get easier but fighting for what is right never is.

  • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

    Here’s the kicker line as I see it: “And I meant it.” When you laid down the ultimatum for this author, I bet you had every intention of following through with whichever path he took. It’s great to hear this author went in the right and humble direction, but the alternative would have probably been just as much a blessing to you and your staff.

    Great post, Michael.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Chris, I too think the “And I meant it” line was helpful in getting point across! 

  • http://www.softskillsforhardjobs.com/ Jim Ryan

    Nice post Michael. Comes at a good time. I’m going to use this as part of supervisor training I’m developing around giving feedback.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Let us know how it goes!

  • Pierre M

    Hi Michael,
    Interesting topic.
    I’m interested to know how your relationship – with the author – was with afterwards?
    Greetings.

    • Pierre M

      … was afterwards ?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It was better for a while, but ultimately didn’t workout. He reverted to his old ways and we parted company.

  • Rene Ferret

    Michael you’re totally correct. I’ve struggled all my life with this topic. My worst weakness is to let down my parents, by doing so I was following them in every step of the way which meant that I was not following my own path.
    My job, school, and girlfriend were also a big issue in my life.They did not make me happy. I was working in an enviroment that I could easily change, I was studying a career that did not interest me and my girlfriend did not exactly meet my expectation in terms of love, mindset, or attitude.
    I took my a great deal of time to finally face every single one of them and make the change.
    Started by my parents, told them all i felt and the way i wanted to drive myself in life, after that i quit my job and work on my own career, drop school and started fresh in a different more spiritual rewarding career and had no choice but to end my relationship.
    As you see i had to make massive changes, and do them in a small period of time but all it takes it realize what you really want, who you really are and take a stand.
    I always say “Something that worries me more than what others say, it’s what i am going to say to myself about all the things I regret not doing”

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    LOVED the wonderful honesty in your posts Michael. I find being upfront with folks on expectations and feedback has helped in getting things done quicker, saves on hard feelings, and leaves the “yuck” feeling of avoiding things in the long run. My husband says he loves the frankness as it saves on miscommunication issues…he never has to guess what I am thinking. There is a huge area where I have not had the courage to speak up with a verbally abusive blustery close family member. Rather than confront this person honestly on his past actions, I have chosen to put firm boundaries around our relationship. It still bugs the heck out of me that at age 42, this person still strikes fear in me when he gets mad. I don’t take crap from anyone else, yet him I let ooze his negativity on my family for years. I can’t say I am proud of this, but happy we have the strict boundaries in place that dictates he no longer has contact with us.

  • Shannon

    I recently let things get very bad before I confronted the situation — but that actually cost everyone more in the end, and that included the individuals who needed to change their behaviour. I’ve tended to think I am being ‘nice’ instead of thinking of it as ‘afraid.’ Now that I think about it, it is the latter. Thanks for the insight.  

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Ah, you used the “nice” word. I’ve often made the same mistake … thinking my silence was an effort to be “nice” to someone. But then I think of those times I had broccoli in my teeth and my friends let me walk around all day without a word. There was nothing “nice” about that. :) How much more so when we’re talking about bad actions and attitudes in our life and work.

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  • Monica

    I believe after reading your post that I can self diagnose – I am a “conflictaphobic”. However, I want to grow as a leader.  With this in mind I will act in spite of my fears.
    I appreciate that courage is not the absence of fear.  I kept waiting for the “fear” to subside so that I could act.  After reading this post, I will go ahead today and handle what I need to handle.  I will speak up despite my fear.

    Perhaps, I will be rebuffed.  Perhaps, what I have to say won’t be received.  Nonetheless, I am the leader and I need to act.  I need to do what’s right regardless of how it turns out.

    The post was very needed today.  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/masae_w masa (やったるで!2013)

    This post was Good timing for me  since i also felt afraid of knowing the real ,, I try to use the courage without confronting my friends .

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Glad it was helpful.  

  • http://twitter.com/masae_w masa (やったるで!2013)

    This post was Good timing for me  since i also felt afraid of knowing
    the real ,, I try to use the courage without confronting my friends .

  • Cole

    Mike:  I’ve had several occasions like that myself and you’re right.  I told my children when they were growing up that the right thing doesn’t always have to feel good; it just has to feel right.  I can’t remember who originally said that.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Cole -

      Great feedback. Helps me as a dad of three young children. 

  • Don Key

    Hello Michael,
    Thank you so much for this post.  When you said it was all about you, I saw myself in the same situation and realized that many times (most of the time) it has been about me.  Thank you for having the courage to share and help me see the truth about myself.  I pray that I will have the courage to confront when necessary.  Thanks again for your willingness to bring value to others lives by sharing what you are learning.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Don. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I’ve been fairly quiet in voicing my opinion in life.  When I was younger I did not speak out much.  I learned to open up more when I returned to college in my 30s.  Now I am willing to speak up and have the courage to do so.  But I’ve also learned to choose my battles carefully.  Often, in academia people get caught up in petty political battles.  I refuse.  I only speak out when I’ve thought carefully about my views and am ready to lay them on the table using a balance of logic and passion.  Otherwise, I take the advice of an old professor of mine: “transcend the b.s.”

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       Dan, knowing a bit of your story of growing up, I would think that learning how to confront was really significant. Was there a particular experience or truth that caused this shift for you?

      • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

        Aaron, I think there were two improtant points. 

        1. My expereince in my 20s to find peace and forgivness concerning my past, which is what my book covers. 

        2.  And more recently, starting a blog.  It was starting a blog in April of 2011 that got me writing my story in a format where I could share it with others.  A few people motivated me to keep writing and sharing.  This led to my opening up more fully about my childhood experiences, which in turn seems to be leading to blessing others.   

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good advice. ;-)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Boy Michael, can I relate to this post. Conflict is hard. I’m not an in-your-face kind of person. I often find myself  as a go between. With my easy going personality, I’m often asked to talk with others and confront situations that have blown up. To act as a mediator. While mediation can be tough, I find it is the solution to many problems. The secret is to find common ground. But it is not easy. One of the best ways to solve problems is to get people together face to face. Put aside e-mail and phone calls. Put the cards on the table. When I’ve been able to do that, things usually work out well. Fighting prolonged battles via email usually turn out badly. If I can’t meet in person, talking by phone is usually effective.

    That’s why, in my own life, I like using a middle man. Whether it’s a real estate agent, property manager, or financial planner, having a professional as a go-between helps me sleep at night. People who are good at conflict resolution and negotiation are often critical to making a good deal. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with getting together face-to-face. E-mail is the wrong venue! I like professional go-betweens too.

  • Tracy

    It has been more difficult for me to speak up in a current role I’m serving as a board member at my kids’ elementary school. Two factors make it a challenge personally: 1) It’s a volunteer position, and 2) I’m working with friends rather than professional colleagues.

    Those circumstances make me hesitate in situations I would otherwise speak up with confidence. I’ve had to get over it when I see opportunities to make improvements and get things done, but it definitely takes me longer to put my big girl pants on.

    Thanks for the post, Michael. Great encouragement!

  • http://www.adjuvancy.com/wordpress Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    Michael, as is true for most of your posts, this topic resonates with me.  Your statement that courage is the willingness to act in spite of your fear is similar to the signature I normally employ:  It takes courage to overtake fear; fear is an emotion
    appropriate to perceived risk.  Therefore, to exhibit courage, one must
    both perceive a risk AND proceed in spite of same.

    As I write in the copies of your book that I proffer my friends and clients, you and I seem to follow the same goals and methods.  It’s just our paths that seem to differ.
    Thanks for voicing this important fact.  For, if we do not act, then those critical items we must achieve are left undone.  And, it is up to us to leave this world better than when we arrived.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    I really enjoy when you share your personal stories!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Me too. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Lis. I like doing that.

      • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

        I always wondered how people reply to one another in blog comments. I just realized I could check Disqus to follow replies. Wow! Anyways, thanks for replying to my comment!

  • http://www.dolphineagle.biz/ Steve Jarrett

     As a nuclear submarine office I had flooding in the engine room. I took the immediate actions to stop the flooding but it also disabled our propulsion. We are like that when we face conflict. We act against the conflict but are stopped from moving ahead. Joshua 1:9 has always been by life verse. Be strong and courageous, don’t be afraid or discouraged. The Lord is with us even in the depths of the sea.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    I feel so affirmed that you put fear of embarrassment first on the list. Once having plucked up my courage and overcome the fear of embarrassment and self focus, it is difficult to know when and how to speak up.  I have tried it a few times with disastrous results where I was never able to pick up the pieces, that is, achieve the final result I desired. It is encouraging to read a scenario that ended with all living happily ever after.

  • http://www.MikeVeny.com Mike Veny

    Great article Michael. I need to find the courage to speak up to myself sometimes. That’s an area that I am growing in at this point in my life..

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

    Instead of confronting, I’ve often decided to to solve problems myself. The results are always the same – I end up reinforcing the other person’s behavior, turning things into a real mess. Something changed for me a little over a year ago when I had the chance to work with the former CFO of a fortune 500 company. He’s a soft-spoken guy, a listener, and really wise. When we hit a situation where a company we hired wasn’t pulling their weight on the project, he was firm and clear in his confrontation. I think watching him helped me to understand what confrontation looks like, and that you can still be a kind person and be confrontational.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I agree. It helps to have it modeled.

  • Impunchingin

    I typically don’t have a problem with confrontation if I know the solution. It’s when I see the need for confrontation but not the solution that scares me the most.
    I know no other way than to say, “I want to table something. I don’t know the solution but maybe we can find it together.”

  • Dscannon

    Michael,

    Elegantly simple and straightforward. I needed to be reminded of this. Thanks.

    Dave

  • http://www.RobTrenckmann.com/ Rob Trenckmann

    Michael, this is so helpful to me. Thanks! One of the most difficult parts of confrontation is the fear of hypocrisy. I always fear that I missed something, that it is still somehow my fault. How do you deal with that fear?

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Me, too. I just remind myself that if I end up being wrong, it’s not the end of the world. Knowing how to confront starts with knowing how to be confronted … accepting I’m just as fallible as everyone else.

      • http://www.RobTrenckmann.com/ Rob Trenckmann

        Thanks Michelle! (BTW–I really enjoy your blog!)

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Thank you, Rob. Appreciate it. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      In a subtle way, this still makes it about you. You have to find a reason to act that makes it about others.

      • http://www.RobTrenckmann.com/ Rob Trenckmann

        Ahh, that’s really, really helpful. Remembering that will give me the courage to act. Thanks.

  • Carina Pilar

    Very good, I see myself in this post! The most difficult to control for me is when I start to stutter. The good thing is the feeling after you do what you had to be done, a little step and growth to improve the leadership behavior.
    I made an interchange and I had to confront different things by myself, and when I came back I noticed that I totally changed on this point, but I still have a lot to learn and improve!
    Awesome words, as usual! Thanks!

  • http://www.ciriongroup.com/ Hunter Hodge

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you for articulating what I could not. I am so afraid of making the wrong decision in a conflict situation that many times I let my fear of those things you mentioned drive me to avoiding conflict even though I know it will be worse later. 

    Anyone in similar situations have any thoughts about how to get yourself in the mindset to approach a problem head on rather than avoiding it?

  • http://ernestdempsey.net/ Ernest Dempsey

    Thanks for sharing this.  What a terrific glimpse inside the the person you were before.  Gives a great insight at who you are now.  
    I would also add that without fear, courage can’t exist.  It’s through those little moments where we force ourselves to do something uncomfortable, new, or dangerous that we grow the most as human beings and as leaders.  
    Again, thank you for sharing this look at your beginnings.  

  • http://www.CSHeinz.com/ CS Heinz

    Good agreement, Michael! I wrote about the same thing today. God must want us to get this. Thank you. How to Increase Your Courage: http://www.csheinz.com/read/post/how_to_increase_your_courage 

  • http://www.tessahardiman.com/ Tessa

    I, too, avoid confrontation like the plague. I cannot stand to upset someone. I’m afraid of what they might think about me. If I’m going to be a leader, then I have to put my big girl pants on and deal with it. Great thoughts Michael. 

  • http://www.BethanyJett.com/ Bethany Jett

    Great post!!!  I understand the conflictaphobia and appreciated knowing that someone I respect overcame the same fear. Tweeting this post!

  • Carrie Schmeck

    I recently had to muster courage to apply for a columnist position in our local paper where the editors want local hooks, some controversy and my personal thoughts. I had exactly the four fears you listed.

    Nice to be reminded we all have these fears. The successful ones find their way to courage.

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  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    Love this post Mike! I struggle with confronting people on their bad behavior thinking that I may offend them.  I’ve learned to be OK with hurting their feelings, which is different than intentionally causing harm.  Being “nice” doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you or your team.  Thanks for sharing this great example of a courageous leader.

  • Shelley Hess

    Thank you Michael, for your perspectives!

    “I had to speak up. If I didn’t, someone would pay an awful price for my personal comfort.”

    The truth of that statement, for example, as well as the true reasons you listed for not speaking up.  I wrestle constantly, more so as it’s a large part of my calling. 

    To remember that someone or several) pays an awful price for my personal comfort when I do not speak up motivates me to work harder at doing so, with grace. 

    Only when I speak up am I truly demonstrating the love of Christ toward that person, caring more about them than I do my own comfort or reputation.

    Thanks again for terrific insight and perspective!

    God Bless!!

  • http://twitter.com/cupojoegirl Eileen Knowles

    I tend to fall into the “let’s just all get along” camp.  I recently left a job where the boss had a horrible attitude and it caused a ripple effect.   Most of the people who had to work directly with her  were miserable human beings.  I wouldn’t have been able to handle it day in and day out.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to interact with her on an ongoing basis.  So, how do you confront the difficult boss with courage?   I once wrote her a letter, showed it to my husband, fumed, and then deleted it.    I bit my tongue, I left on good terms.  And yes, a part of it was fear of making waves which I didn’t think would solve anything.  Yet, a part of me really wanted to say more. 

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/ Cynthia Herron

    Conflict…the mere word causes my pulse to quicken.

    I think the longer we avoid conflict, though, the more likely we are to resent the source.
    Diplomacy and Christlike compassion go a long way when confronting difficult situations so I try to strive for those in the midst of something uncomfortable.

    As odd as it seems, I do believe there are folks who languish at the other end of the spectrum–those who want to do battle just for the sake of being obstinate when there’s no validity to their stance (well, except in their own minds…)

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com/ Laurinda Bellinger

    in 8th grade,  I was in my school’s jazz band.  It was the last concert of the year and I had a solo.  I had rehearsed for months.  A week before the concert our band leader/teacher gave the solo to a 9th grader.  I was so angry.  I didn’t say anything until my dad said to confront my teacher.  The next day I did and I came off a little more “in your face” than I probably should have because I was pushing through the fear.  He only said, ‘it’s my band I can do what I want.’  After the concert, he talked to me and told me he likes to honor 9th graders in the band because they are going off to high school. But he was glad I had confronted him because he honestly didn’t know I cared.   I didn’t think anything off it. Well the next year while I was in 9th grade – EVERY performance I had a spotlight and won all kinds of musician awards.  Lesson Learned – speak up!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Michelle Blanton

    Michael, thanks so much for this post. I have never been one to confront others in any area of my life. I could use this in my ministry opportunities and work. 

  • Shelley Hess

    A moment to share perspective from the receiving end of ‘correction’.  Imagine how many others, for many years, have been prompted but never followed through on speaking up to that author.  He heard exactly what the Lord wanted him to hear that day.  Amen to you, Michael, for being willing! 

    I commend and am very grateful to the ones who are willing to confront issues I create.  If I knew better I wouldn’t be continuing the wrong attitude or actions.  I NEED to hear the correction.  I am very grateful, for that one’s willingness and courage to step forward.  In reality this is done for my good!! 

    I also appreciate your comment that you do not need to agree with everything said, but endeavor to graciously accept and thank that person.  And then extract every bit of truth from that feedback.  Exactly!  And AMEN!

  • Eva popek

    I was always the one people would go to because they knew I couldn’t keep quiet if something was not ok.  They seemed to think I enjoyed confrontation.  What I enjoyed was seeing everyone getting along and being on the same page to get something done. Unfortunately there were times when the WAY I said things (even if I was right), was not always ok. I was a pharmacist 23 years and I would NEVER let the public mistreat any of my techs.  It goes back to the feeling of no matter who a person is they are not less valuable than the one next to them.  I am becoming more courageous in presenting my product (JesusRx daily doses).  I know not everyone loves, let alone likes Jesus and His Word, but it has brought more life to me than any drug I could ever take so I will continue, without fear, educating and speaking of the best “medicine” I know.  (Yes I take all the prescription I dispense now, and feel great about it!!)  God bless, and may we go forward in courage with the gifts we have been given! 

  • http://www.tulanesolutions.com/ Kip Backscheider

    Someone once likened fear to a deep dark pool of unknown water and courage as the swimming across the pool. Courage is what you use/do to get through the fear.

  • Rose Gardener

    I think the most important lesson to be learned in this example is that as a leader you MUST stand up for your employees. If you fail to act even once in that regard, your ability to lead thereafter will be seriously compromised. However, if your staff know you will back them and support them, they will go the extra mile to deal with situations themselves rather than trouble you with ‘small’ issues. (To them the issue probably seems huge, but they dig deep and find the same sort of courage you found- more likely still if you have previously demonstrated how to face such situations through good leadership.) The unseen benefit is that you inadvertently help your staff to grow personally too; a win-win situation. You grow, they grow.

  • Noahfineart

    I spent years of my life internalizing the pain of certain triggers such as wounds from my childhood or my parents divorce. This life of “non confrontation” lifestyle became triggered more often as I grew as a leader.

    By the time I had my company airborne and was building my platform out of highschool I started realizing I had more confrontation. I was going to have to face people, clients and family members. It was so painful. Similar to going to the gym it becomes a discipline and easier. However the triggers or wounds, scars don’t go away. I believe God put these in my wiring to keep me sharp. If I wasn’t “sensitive” to others thoughts of me, business ethics workplace relationships then I would probably be running red lights and burning bridges.

    The fact is, if learned that others think of me way differently than I do. They expect me to draw a line in the sand or stand up because of my leadership. I’m the one losing sleep over caring too much. They aren’t.

    Bravery is stepping out of the comfort zone for me. The bigger the assignments God puts for me to manage and the stakes get higher with bigger demands, responsibility and human dynamics. Also bigger possibility of fallout. I truly believe it comes with the territory of a leader. Don’t ask for the big brand, paycheck or leadership roll without the taking the responsibility for the underbelly of the operations. Most will settle for the position of top leadership without authority to have to confront. Confrontation requires action and if not dealt with, amount to excess baggage.

    The greatest mentors and leaders I’ve read about have a sharp discipline to care about those they serve, voice their convictions and draw a line in the sand and do it all in love. That’s an amazing trait.

    I seek out those leaders that have the ability and sensitivity to confront and deal with others while not burning bridges and destruction. It’s actually a harder route.

    This I know: If I’m uncomfortable and being stretched it going to build character and means I must be leading if I’m having to deal with such situations.

    Michael I’m thankful for forums and conversations such as these because leadership is a lonely road. When you’re the spearhead you are the first to take on the brunt of the action.

    Glad to walk with you all.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Terrific comment, Noah. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Bonnie Clark

    Good post! 

    I wonder if many of your readers are conflict adverse because Christians are taught to show grace to others?  It may be helpful to remember to remember what might be gained from having a conversation.

    I read a good book called “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott and she says: 

    Why would I subject myself to the conversation? 
    Because what’s on the other side of my toughest issues is worth it: relief, success, health, freedom from stress, happiness, a high-performing team, a fulfilling relationship. 

    She goes on to say that we can have the conversations needed to create the results we say we want in our lives, or we can have all of our reasons why we can’t have those conversations.  But we can’t have both. 
    Reasons or results.

  • http://www.scottrossonline.com/ Scott Ross

    Thank for this post.  My personality is actually the opposite, and I have had to be very purposeful in growing as a person of tact, grace, and awareness of my tone since I am naturally quick to voice my opinion and address issues that I see.  As a leader, this post helps me relate to those I mentor and is something I will refer them to when they struggle with this issue.  That said, I do have things I fear, and the principle of acting in spite of your fear is easily applied to those areas as well.  

  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman.com

    WOW, that’s ballsy and awesome. I’m glad you stood up and said something! Sometimes people speak up too much, they don’t have a healthy dose of fear, but too many peopel seem to fall in the other direction of never saying something when they should.

    The exttra awsome part here is that the dude might have been taught a lesson about thee need to not be a douche. It’s great you finally called him out on it. Good job!

  • Claudio

    Michael, a timely post as I have been reading and reflecting on fear recently. Fear of loss, failure, rejection have influenced my personal life and professional life. Having just retired from a Superintendent of Schools/CEO position, and after a few months being home, I have had more time to understand how fear has influenced my thoughts and actions. At work, I was forced to step out and deal with fear as part of my daily responsibilities. When I did, I found it demanding and exhausting. So much so, that when I got home and faced issues and conflict with my loved ones, I many times did not engage which has influenced our relationships. Being released from the stress and constraints of the work situation has now allowed me to focus on the fear and work through it with my family. Reading, reflecting and journaling has certainly helped. Thanks for posting this at it has clearly helped.

    Regards, Claudio Morelli

  • http://twitter.com/quirkycity Heather C Button

    I wonder if my desire to please people comes out in my fear of confrontation. Perhaps it is the fear of losing control if I do confront someone. Either way, when I’m on a construction site, I need to make a decision, and confront issues or they become way too costly to fix. So, still learning.

  • http://brianbbaker.com/about/ Brian B Baker

    This is a wonderful post. Getting past fear is an accomplishment that many people never try. They’d rather sit in the dark and ignore their surroundings waiting for someone else to pick up the flag of leadership.

    I usually have more difficulty with fear in writing what I should write and not standing up for what I believe in instead of following the heard and doing what everyone else is doing.

    The only thing that was holding me back was the fear of being judged by what I wrote and the fear of judgement of others used to be a strong motivator in my writing. Breaking this fear is one of my goals for the year.

  • Stevemonahan777

    Great insight. Courage is an emotional muscle …..more we flex it stronger it grows.

  • Hefshiba

    Thank you so much for this piece. You hit my nature on the head. I can own up to my cowardice and come out of it. I don’t want to hurt people, that is why I don’t speak up. I will make a start from now. Thanks for being sincere

  • Michael Kocurek

    Michael, thank you so much for your transparency, which has already made me a little more courageous.  I continue to see that the difference between mediocrity and success is the willingness to just step up and act.  You continue to inspire.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Wow.  That’s powerful.  I have had those calls before where the phone was shaking in my hand (while I was shaking in my boots).  

    It sounds like courage is acting to do the right thing even in the face of fear.  Great story and a great encourgement.

  • Andrea Warfield

    What’s crazy for me is that I have no problem speaking up if I see a client’s interests are being harmed by another on my team, or for that matter in private life. If someone else is being harmed, hurt, harassed, etc. I’m probably the first one to speak up.

    On the other hand, if I’m the person being hassled, treated badly, or underhandedly, I rarely, if at all speak up and have the courage to place boundaries on a situation.

    I find this somewhat ironic.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    That’s such a great definition of courage (I shared it on my network). For me personally my mission is to help people. The problem is I’m getting a lot of request that, if I responded, would take up a great deal of time. Taking time away from the things I need to focus on right now, I have a real hard time saying no….. You’ve given me a little more courage :) 

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    That’s awesome. Shawn is a great guy. I’m so glad he married Madeline. Also, glad he directed you here!

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  • http://twitter.com/Rini_MAU Miranda A. Uyeh

    Sometimes you find yourself in a circumstance where there is a lot of negative talk directed at you. And of course because you don’t want to stir up trouble, you avoid any sticky situations. The trouble is, negative talk tears you down–this was my situation. I had to speak for myself, not because I wanted to talk anyone down, but because I wanted to save myself from anymore negative talk. I guess sometimes the road to peace is a battle.

  • http://www.timthompsonshares.com/ Tim Thompson

    Michael I’m reminded of the quote “Meekness is power under control.”
    Author: Warren Wiersbe
    Just a thought that came to my mind reading your very insightful post. Best wishes: Tim

  • http://www.karlaakins.com/ Karla Akins

    Oh this is such a good post. My husband and I have been in ministry for 30 years and it took us over half of those years to learn to respond in spite of our fear and stop being door mats. I personally absolutely hate confrontation. You won my heart explaining how you shook holding the phone. I thought I was the only one who did that! Thanks for being so human and vulnerable in this post. You passed courage on to me today.

  • http://twitter.com/alyssaavant Alyssa Avant

    I am a conflict avoider as well.  I literally shake when I have to do so.  

  • Festusomotara

    Yes, Michael this is a sure way to conquer terrorism of any form

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    Thank you for your honesty and openness Michael.  People don’t get inspired by facts and stats, but by real life experiences. Thanks for always serving up huge doses of the latter! God bless

  • http://twitter.com/ArielPaz08 Ariel Paz

    Ah, confrontation. So difficult yet so necessary. As with any new skill, practice makes perfect. I find the courage to speak up because I have learned that to confront is better than denial & suppression. Dealing with  issues directly & timely is almost always the best approach. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” right? Unresolved issues are the fodder of sleepless nights.

     Confrontation has gotten a bad rap. If we focus on the good outcomes as evidenced in your example, perhaps we won’t be so afraid of it. Confrontation preserves and can actually enhance relationships. Helps folks get on the same page and puts a timely end to unproductive behavior. Confrontation is a close relative to setting good boundaries.   

    Thanks for being transparent, Michael. We all struggle with this but the more we are willing to  dialogue & find we are not alone,  the more courage we will all have.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Mike, I appreciate your transparency on this subject and the challenge you lay out for the rest of us. One pastoral regret I have is not standing up to a mean-spirited church member who chased off a newly hired staff person. That happened during my first few years as a young pastor, but I still think about my cowardice in that situation.

  • Lynn

    I have noticed when people get power, especially in the entertainment business, they use that power for either themselves or others. The people who use it for others inevitably grow out of the grace. Like you, Michael, you have figured out that in sharing and helping others, God can trust you in places of leadership…and leading leaders. Great job!

  • Aaron

    Michael – this really spoke to me today. It’s been a theme in my life recently and just like your story it’s like the opportunities keep coming. Act and lean in are two key words I took from your post and will begin to implement. I answered the courage call once but there have been may times I didn’t. I’m encouraged by your story and journey. Thank you for sharing.

  • The Quiet One

     

    I will tell you my story for speaking up. I was in a
    corporate meeting, a very large one. There was a split in the organization as
    to who was going to be taking leadership. Half supported the current direction
    and the other half wanted critical issues addressed before our support could be
    offered. As the other side marched back and forth to the podium expressing
    their admiration, up walked a close co-worker to present a list of names of
    staff who had supposedly agreed to sign it in support. I was shocked that she
    had so brazenly embraced and represented this falsehood.

    Three people of the eleven names had expressed deep grief to
    several of us on the other side that they had been “strong-armed” into signing
    and knew their positions would be in danger of elimination if they hadn’t. I
    was inflamed with the injustice of it.

    I sat with my other co-workers who knew it was a sham and
    when the President asked if there were any other comments for the record, I
    watched in horror as my hand shot heavenward! I looked up, yes, it really was
    MY hand. Now every eye was on me. What did I have to say? I stepped to the
    podium as those around me sat wide-eyed. That’s not what they knew of me. I was
    quiet, amicable, pleasant but not a rebel. I leaned into the microphone and
    started to speak. My voice was shaking. I was thinking to myself, why can’t you
    control your voice, you sound like a scared child! But it was already in
    motion. I spoke of the staff members who had signed under duress without
    indicating anyone. I suggested the board question each member individually to
    learn the truth. They thanked me for my comments and I sat down. Suddenly another
    staff member took the podium in our defense, and then a local citizen.

    Our voices were heard and on the record. I was stunned that
    I had done this. But injustice was being flaunted in my face. The pain of going
    home knowing that truth had not been represented and that I might have made a
    difference but didn’t try….THAT would have been harder to bear. Though my
    outcome was not as triumphant as yours Michael, I enjoy knowing I was a voice
    for justice. I did my part. I am not responsible for the outcome. Others will
    have to answer for what they did with truth.

    Thank you for sharing your “shaky voice” confession! It was
    very gracious of you to invite us into your experience. Once again, that
    someone of your stature has had the same struggles as Jane and John Q. Doe, is
    more encouraging than you know!!!

    • Jim Martin

      Thank you for sharing this story about such a difficult moment in your life.  Stories like yours, where women and men choose to speak up instead of remaining silent are encouraging and motivating.  

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  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Fear about really being wrong is what holds me back. What if I don’t assess the situation properly and really am wrong? Makes me shudder! 
    But you are correct: courage is standing/speaking up in the face of fear.

  • Stephen

    Michael, Thanks for sharing.

    I had a similar situation in my past that didn’t turn out as nice and neat. In order for any confrontation to be successful two characteristics need to be present. Honesty and humility. If they aren’t it’s a mute point.

    My situation involved parties, myself included, who thought there was nothing wrong with the actions or behaviors that were being demonstrated. My confronting the situation just made things worse. Resentment on both sides, an enormous amount of prideful self-interest and denial coupled with some guilt just to name a few of the dynamics. It ended with a parting of ways.

    Confrontation is not always the proper course of action. This is something I’ve come to realize as my relationship with God has grown. I’ve discussed confrontation with others asking these questions. What if David confronted King Darius and the other administrators? What if Job confronted God? What if Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego confronted Nebuchadnezzar? And Lastly, What if Jesus would have confronted Judas? The response was and is always the same. They were fulfilling prophecy. Whether we want to accept it or not we are fulfilling prophecy every day. You, me and everyone else on this planet. 

    The first thing that comes to mind for me if all of these what if’s would have happened is. None of these leaders would have demonstrated their faith in God’s authority, his promises and his supernatural ability. These are all more important than what I would gain from confronting some one about something. 

    Suppose the abuse your staff took at the expense of the author had another purpose? What if it was meant for them to deal directly with the author? What if it was meant to prepare them for another adverse situation they were going to deal with down the road? What if you would have lost some of the staff? What if you would have lost credibility with the staff? “WE” put an emphasis on leaders being able to make timely and informed decisions. Not God. I just read a quote today that said “Sometimes you will have to let people down, and fail to gain their approval when you intend to not let God down and so obtain His approval.” The world is understanding this less and less. Who should we be more concerned with gaining the approval of? One another or God?

    God sees what we don’t. There aren’t to many examples in the bible where God instructed his people to confront a situation. Not that I know of any way. And the examples that are there don’t make sense to us cerebrally. Who would have thought that marching around a city seven times with the band and choir in full procession would have brought down an enemy.

    Before I would go off and encourage people to confront things in their life I would encourage them to turn to God in prayer about the situation. Then encourage patience to wait on God to handle the problem and give them his direction. It’s not always easy or timely. I know too many people who have a, rush in first, then let God help with the clean up attitude. My own personal experiences have taught me against this wisdom.

    Many people have been like what are you waiting for. Why aren’t you doing anything. Why aren’t you saying anything.   We don’t nor will we ever live in a perfect world but I’m hard pressed not to believe that God wants in on the decision making process of our decisions. Before they are put to action. The world drives us and it wants us to make decisions on our timing not God’s. There have been numerous circumstances I’ve witnessed and been a part of that waiting on God’s answer was far greater than acting in my own timing.

    God has supernatural powers that we don’t. We’ve become a society respected by the strength of our own abilities. That’s what we are leading future generations into believing, the strength and power of  their own abilities. And then we ask where God is in all this. Faith isn’t just about salvation and eternal life. Faith is about trusting in God’s supernatural powers as well. The wisdom of Proverbs 16:7 says, When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

    Things seem to have worked out in your situation and for that I am grateful. Not all situations justify the same response though. I can’t speak for the other parties in my situation but I have grown from it. Mostly and more importantly my relationship with God. Like I said earlier God has supernatural powers that we don’t and they’re activated by prayer and obedience.  Thanks again for sharing and God bless!

  • http://www.nathanroten.com/ Nathan Roten

    It is funny that you asked where we need to find the courage to speak up, because that is exactly where my insecurities lie.  I have never been a good speaker, but as I have a published book and have started blogging (with much help from your insight), I have to face that fear.  It is the most fearful times in my life, but the accomplishment you feel after you face it is beyond description.  Great post Michael.  Thanks.

  • http://www.smartbusinessrevolution.com/ John Corcoran

    I am also generally a non-confrontational person.  Which is kind of ironic because I’m a lawyer, and I’ve had to be very confrontational in my profession. So working in a profession which has forced me to speak up has helped me to learn to do it in other capacities, such as in my personal life. 

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  • Lindseytorrison

    I find it difficult to confront a person at work who I can feel tension with, but I’m not sure why or if they even feel it. I wonder: “should I say something to them about the tension I feel, or just let it go and proceed with my work duties?” 

  • Kyna Baker

    Thank you Michael for sending me yet another reminder that I need to step up and step out of my comfort zone.

  • Josh

    As a minister at a smaller rural church, I need to speak up when people in the church become only focused on insiders and forget about the people outside of the walls.  It can be scary sometimes to look at people in the eye and tell them in a loving way that their focus is on maintaining what is and not advancing what can be for the Kingdom of God.

    What holds me back? Things like: confrontation that can be taken the wrong way, people thinking this young kid is trying to mess up our church, etc.

    To sum it up though: Fear as well.

    Next time I’m in a situation that I need courage to speak, I’ll remember your phrase Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.”

    Maybe I’ll play Casting Crown’s “Courageous” on my mp3 player before the confrontation… Just joshing… kinda.

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  • http://www.youremotionalfreedom.com/ Ben

    I struggled with that for years. I’m not always where i’d like to be but i’ve improved massively with it. It’s funny because all the things you fear might happen when you confront somebody don’t usually end up happening.

    -Ben

  • Eric Bryant

    Thanks for the post and the comments!

    The title of this post reminded me of what Erwin McManus writes in his book Uprising.

    “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the absence of self.”

    • Jim Martin

      Eric, I like this quote by McManus.  Thanks!

  • Loritaylorarts

    Your humility and honesty are very courageous. I’m inspired and I thank you Michael.

  • http://www.betterhealthtoday.co Kay Wilson

    I am in Network Marketing and have distributors on my team, I find it difficult to give them direction, follow up by checking to see if they are doing DMO, then when they have not followed through…..it is a fine line for me to encourage or correct them without hurt feelings.

  • http://www.marilynluinstra.com/ Marilyn Luinstra

    I like the story you told Michael. Thank you for sharing it. I have been listening to Platform and gearing up to launch a blog community for newbies to the anti-slavery cause. I bit scary putting myself out there. Courage. Yes.
     

  • Callifrey

    It’s a strange thing, but the fear of something is way worse than the actual experience of that thing. Writing, speaking in public, speaking anywhere, following through on an idea, trying something different, admitting you are wrong. How much energy we all face in worrying, and nopt doing.www.louisasnotes.com

  • http://twitter.com/CFVisual c.flemming : visual

    My whole life when I was younger was dominated by sheer terror. I was, literally, afraid of the dark.A couple years ago, I realized I hadn’t sent fear packing, but only into hiding.Here’s a glimpse into what God has been teaching me through it:http://cflemming.com/ripeforharvest/the-flip-side-of-fear/

  • Darlene L. Turner

    I think we all struggle with confrontation. It’s tough. Thanks for this post. Love this line (I’m going to remember it when I’m pitching to agents at an upcoming writer’s conference!): “Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.”  

  • http://twitter.com/wayoutwise jmoney (Jeff Jones)

    This has always been one of the obstacles I had to overcome and it wasn’t always easy and I often failed.  I enrolled in a Masters program in Conflict Resolution after a divorce because I didn’t do conflict well and wanted help for me and the ability to help others.  What a ride it has been.  I’ve learned much, put much into practice, helped others and still have much to learn.  I am a better person for the experience and have learned things I wish I knew better all my life.  Thanks for a post to remind us that we can still act in the face of our fear.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/erikjfisher/ Erik Fisher

    I’ve heard a lot of people talk about eliminating fear, or dealing with fear, or overcoming fear. I’m wondering if fear is ever something that can be truly gotten rid of, or arriving at a point where we don’t ever feel the effects of fear. 

    I don’t know. 

    What I do know from my experience is this: When I focus on mustering up courage, or gaining courage from the true sources it comes from, as well as putting the feelings of fear in the perspective of eternity, it’s easier to act in the face of fear. Perhaps this is the action of “perfect love driving out fear”?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think you are right, Erik. I still experience fear, but I go ahead and act any way. I find that taking any step in a positive direction lessens its power in my life. Thanks.

  • Paula

    This is something I have struggled with in every romantic relationship I’ve been in, and ultimately broken off a number of them because the thing that was bothering me became too much.  I am now in a relationship with a man that I admire and value greatly [very different for me!].   We have been together about 6 months, but in the past couple of months he has talked less and less about anything that really matters – now just talking about when I’m meeting him, what’s for dinner, etc.  For a while I told myself that it was just that a lot of things were going on – Thanksgiving, 2 birthdays, Christmas – so he had a lot on his mind, but I’m not sure this is it.  I want to speak up, as I know that doing what I always have will end up in the same results as I’ve always gotten, but I don’t know where to begin or what to say.

  • http://www.DailyMarketingBlog.com/ Matt Law

    Fantastic post… I’m slow to comment, but this is so true I figured I’d add myself to the discussion.  

    When I started in leadership at 23, I was so afraid to confront.  I would let things build up so much so that everyone thought I was a wimpy leader because I’d let things slide.  After reading books on leadership I new I needed to change.  

    in 2005, I had to fire an employee because I didn’t confront and correct the entire time leading up to this.  Her mistake was severe and she deserved to be fired, but I always wonder if she would have done something so wrong if I had loved and confronted her the whole way.

     When you confront early, the damage is less, and it is easier for the one being confronted to take it a little easier as the offense might not be that bad.  

    When you wait and let it build, it ALWAYS turns out bad!  

    2 Cents from Matt Law

  • http://www.DavidASpecht.com/ David A Specht

    Wow, Michael. Are you reading my mail? I, like you, get physically ill when I am forced into a conflict situation. More times than not, however, the scenarios I play out in my head are MUCH WORSE than what usually ends up taking place.  Still hasn’t made it easier though. I guess we just have more resolve over time to just “bite the bullet.”

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  • Erica Melchin

    This is a struggle of mine as well. It came to a head when I had to call out a close family member on very wrong and immoral behavior, and received several nasty personal attacks in return. However, a year later, that family member did mend their behavior, and apologized to me. I decided if I could confront someone I had admired and respected deeply throughout the years, I could confront the smaller problems I face every day. And yes, I still get intensely anxious if I have to do it, but the point is I know I can. Thanks for this post.

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