Courage has not always been an innate quality. It is a common misconception that courage is a person who has the loudest voice with the strongest conviction. This is just its “tip of the iceberg” meaning. It is actually a skill that even the greatest leaders have been trying to master throughout history.
Just two weeks earlier, I had the chance to listen to Shamah Bulangis, a young Filipino queer feminist and an advocate against violence against women and children. This was during an online leadership training program participated by selected young women all over Southeast Asia. It was a talk that I never knew I needed as a young determined woman myself. While courage has a lot of definition, what she highlighted most is that it is a special kind of calculated risk taking.
Courage calculation has six parts which are determinants to successfully take a risk that requires courage.
First is the ability to set goals and determine a primary and secondary goal. This is my first mistake when taking an action. All I know is that I am motivated to do something courageous with a primary goal and never have a secondary goal which gives clarity and depth.
Second, it is to determine the importance of the set goals. This means we need to communicate to the right people on how we should deal with a goal we have in mind and if it needs a dire, proactive action or a subtle one. Either way, it is still portraying courage. Next is to tip the power balance. We should know networks that would support set goals which requires time to build.
Moreover, there is a need to weigh the risks and benefits. These include the knowledge on who wins and loses when one takes a stand. It is also taking into account one’s personal reputation which basically asks if it is worth the risk. But the moral dilemma in standing up for its much greater cause while being personally criticized depends on the situation. In the end, courage is sometimes the only person who speaks up among thousand voices.
While doing this, we must also select the right time to pursue the goals. This questions one’s mental, physical, and emotional state before taking the risk. I believe this is the highlight of courage calculation. It is being prepared to be proactive while having the right support system and networks at the right time. It is the whole point of courage being a gamble with calculated moves that makes our goals thrive.
Lastly is developing contingency plans when one’s goal do not meet its set objectives. While we strive to be successful in whatever goal we want to pursue, losing is part of the courage calculation. Courage is not just applicable in winning but also in losing. Our contingency plans will help us to turn our failures into something positive.
Sharing the courage calculation of Shamah is timely in today’s conundrums. It makes us and our leaders be accountable in what we should do in a time where courage is the only solution. Again, courage is not innate but everybody should have it.