We all know the story of the Cowardly Lion in the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” – he overcame all kinds of threats and obstacles (with Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow) to get to the Wizard, who “gave” him his courage in the form of a medal.
Turns out, he already had it – he just didn’t believe it. After all, he was a lion. Leaders of the pack. The kings of the savanna. He didn’t have to go though all that trouble to prove himself.
Leaders are a lot like lions in this way, by nature of the primary definition of “lead” – showing the way.
The very act of being a leader is a show of courage, so if we can come that far and step to the front, there’s no reason we need to “go to Oz” to find and display our courage on a consistent basis.
Oftentimes, we just need a little reinforcement, drawing inspiration from other leaders (and lions) to overcome our fears, and take on all the challenges, threats, obstacles, and setbacks that come our way.
In my career I’ve found these quotes to be just the things I needed to keep the “heart of a lion”:
Whatever your sex or position, life is a battle in which you are to show your pluck, and woe be to the coward. Whether passed on a bed of sickness or a tented field, it is ever the same fair play and admits no foolish distinction. Despair and postponement are cowardice and defeat. Men were born to succeed, not to fail. – Henry David Thoreau
One man with courage makes a majority – Andrew Jackson
All problems, personal, national, or combat, become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them. Touch a thistle timidly, and it pricks you; grasp it boldly, and its spines crumble. Carry the battle to the enemy! Lay your ship alongside his!– Admiral William “Bull” Halsey
Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them, And they flew . . . – Guillaume Apollinaire
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm – Winston Churchill
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave – Mark Twain
Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.– Eleanor Roosevelt
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.– Ralph Waldo Emerson
You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor – Aristotle
Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow – Dorothy Thompson
And….in the words of the Cowardly Lion himself, “Read what my medal says: “Courage”. Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?”
Indeed it is, Leadership Lions!