Courageous moves can bring criticism, varied opinions and even an onslaught of doubt and second-guessing. Even close friends and family question our motives, skills and plans. The easiest choice in many of those cases is simply to back down and placate the voices around us. However, it takes more courage to stay calm and approach naysayers with a consistent fire hose hooked to a viable source of water, containing clear communication and confidence. Otherwise, trying to respond to negativity and attacks with a small trickle or drip will bring additional flames quicker than a fire spreading rapidly across dry hills.
Fire is dangerous and that is no surprise to anyone living close to an area covered with the dry fuel of brush that lights surrounding hills with an inferno. Fire travels sixteen times faster when moving up a hill. This was a fact my father shared with me over breakfast one morning. He was a fire captain and trainer for many years in Los Angeles County, California. Several months after we first moved into our present home, we experienced a heat wave with raging fires in our area. We could see the fire in the distance, but felt no danger, even though right around us, the hills were dry and full of dry brush.
Wind and Containment
The fire didn’t take long to get to our immediate vicinity. It traveled with enormous speed and gusto because it was being carried by the wind. The homes in our neighborhood were soon evacuated as the danger was near. Ultimately, the only reason our home was saved was that the direction of the wind changed. As the crow flies, the fire had literally come within two hundred yards of our home.
The containment of fire is much more difficult when there is wind, especially a strong wind. To contain fire, the following methods are used: fire lines; backfires; water, dosing the fire not only from large hoses but also from aircraft that can drop between ninety and twenty- five hundred gallons of water. The use of drones is also a fairly new method that expands the ability to fight fire through extreme smoke and darkness. All these methods are used to contain fire but their effectiveness depends on weather and wind conditions. Severe wind conditions can make a fire almost impossible to contain. So how does this relate to courageous moves under fire?
Courage Under Fire
To control and contain negativity and self-doubt when the flames approach our decisions I suggest three ways to start:
ONE: Have a Clear Goal in Mind: Spend time on defining this with a timeline. Don’t discount wise advice from mentors, but also don’t discount your plan.
TWO: Develop Your Plan with Consistency and with a Schedule: Work backward from your timeline and break down your goal into very small achievable steps.
THREE: Clearly Communicate with Confidence: This is really important and takes some thought and foresight. Come up with a phrase that clearly states where you desire to be.
Even if a courageous plan does not bring the full expected outcome, positive steps are taken toward change with the ability to revise the plan. Most good leaders realize they will experience naysayers and have developed courage under fire. As I continue to lead in different areas of my life, including both professional and personal areas, I aspire not only to be good, but a great leader. What about you?