Thursday, January 21, 2010

Courage is Not Comfortable; but Comfort Can Be Worse

At first blush, I was tempted to leave Courage out of a leadership model I developed in 2009, because it felt too “emotional.” However, the objectivity of observation made it clear that Courage was essential to the success of Master Integrators of a key vision and absent in those cases where Vision Integration was low. At the end of the day it is merely a matter of physics; an absence of Courage leads to a dilution of the Vision, whereas its presence strengthens it. It is beyond clichés or opinion, it is as it is, an observable result of cause and effect.
Courage is not comfortable. Unfortunately, we live in a society that places comfort above all else. We work for the weekend, early retirement and summers off. Nice homes, bigger homes, plush cars and Heavenly Beds at the Westin. I have nothing against these, per se; but left in the realm of the unconscious, we are easy pray to the siren’s call for comfort. Advertising and so-called market forces perpetuate the message that suffering can, and should, be alleviated. We are bombarded by images of smiles, success and happiness in 30-second sound bites and overpromising self-help methods (including my profession, coaching) that hold out the carrot of perpetual comfort.
As a by-product, our capacity, let alone our desire, for discomfort significantly suffers (ironically, increasing suffering itself). In fact, discomfort is so loathed in our society that we often ingest our own discomfort as a sign of “failure.” Marital problems, a downturn in sales, a state of confusion: these are all precursors to embarrassment and self-deprecation. When success doesn’t simply “flow” or we are not “in the zone,” we beat ourselves up, thinking there is something wrong with us and look for a way out as quickly as possible.
Nothing could be further from truth—or practicality.
Master Integrators of their own vision accept the discomfort of integration. Without apology, they endure uncertainty, confusion and fear itself, to stay the course. A course whose destination they “know” without knowing the course itself. A knowledge they continue to cultivate through more refined levels of Awareness and Discipline. The joy of honoring this “knowing” surpasses the short-term roadblocks and inconveniences of discomfort. This is Courage. And this is perhaps the make-or-break quality of a Master Integrator.

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