4 Courageous Steps to Making Your Change

You’ve had that feeling for a while, and it’s not going away. The daily battle to stay engaged and productive is wearing on you. It’s time for a change, and you’re either reluctant to move forward or don’t know how.

Courage is needed, and your mind drifts to those traditional heroic figures in movies such as Superman, William Wallace, or Luke Skywalker that overcame insurmountable obstacles and challenges with a tough-as-nails attitude and swagger.

Traditional Definitions of Courage

I attended a POW reunion in New Orleans with many of my fellow Vietnam POWs as well as a very special group of Special Forces troops who conducted the Son Tay prison raid in Vietnam. Courage was the entry fee to this event, as everyone in the room had faced very serious personal and professional challenges that required tenacity and superhuman will.

It’s always an inspiring visit with this group, but the other side of courage is the steady, day-to-day courage to do the right thing and make honorable, good decisions.

Day-to-day courage is the type that truly builds honorable leadership and outcomes, and it’s a personal responsibility that we all must embrace. [Tweet This]

Two Types of Leadership

In my book, Leading with Honor, as well as my consulting work, there are two types of leadership shown. If you’re facing a change, it fits into either of these categories.

Let’s take a closer look at them in these real-life examples –

  1. Leading Yourself

One of my past consulting clients mentioned that he’s ready for a job change. After 20 years in his current organization, he knows that it’s time to take the next step in his career. But he’s stuck and has some fear of the unknown next steps in the process. Not only does he want to leave his current company right way, but he wants to find a new job that matches his goals and values.

  1. Leading Others

One of my executive clients that is a CEO has a team member that’s not fulfilling their role or getting expected results. For the sake of this team member as well as a healthy culture for his organization, he knows that a change is required. His team is watching and waiting to see what he’ll do. It’s stressful, but he wants to do it the right, honorable way.

4 Points of Creating Courage

The courageous formula that I advise clients to use is simple but not easy. Do you need to get some traction and create some courage to move forward? Here are the four points:

These 4 points create a cycle that must be repeated as you’re going through your season of change.


  1. Believe. You must believe that your decision is the right thing to do and that you can do it. Believe in yourself, take personal ownership, and enlist some courageous accountability from others.


  1. Plan. Be intentional and plan how you want to move forward. Review the steps with some people that you trust to give good feedback.


  1. Act. Make a choice and step out. Lean into the pain of your doubts and fears and do what you know is right, even when it doesn’t feel natural or safe. This is my definition of leading with honor.


  1. Follow-Through. Walk out your plan and stay committed. Coach yourself daily or even moment-by-moment if it’s required. Ask those people you trust to check in on your progress on a regular basis. Accountability from others is often crucial to success when we are following through on tough decisions or changing habits.

Making Your Plan Unique

Another primary focus in working with clients is focusing on natural behavior—having an awareness and acceptance of your unique, natural strengths and struggles.

As you’re creating courage and executing your plan to change, I encourage you to be exactly who you’re wired to be! [Tweet This]

Are you an extrovert? Connecting with others is generally easy, but you’ll need help to create and fulfill the details of your plan—build some structure into it. Are you an introvert? Creating the plan generally comes easily to you, but you’ll need to coach yourself on building and connecting with your support network.

Final Challenge

Whether it’s creating courage to change something personally or professionally, honorable leaders go first, set the example, and make the difficult decisions to move forward. But rather than courageously storming the gates, so to speak, develop an inner courage that’s authentic, humble, and honorable. That creates the best change for everyone. You can do it, and I believe in you.   

Please share your success stories in the Comments section below.


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6 Comments on “4 Courageous Steps to Making Your Change

J Mark Walker
January 16, 2019 at 3:27 pm

I like your leadership priorities: first, lead yourself, then others. Too many leaders give themselves leeway that they would not extend to subordinates. Or they fail to make the hard choices necessary for the health of their organization or department.

Kevin Light
January 16, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Mark – thanks for sharing your insight and feedback. Appreciate the wisdom! Kevin @ Leading with Honor

Delores Liely
January 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm

I love these lessons. To tap into what was shared above, I just thought of a leader who asks for flexibility from staff to help out in a bind that he himself would not grant to his staff…

Kevin Light
January 16, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Thank you Delores! Hope that your situation improves and grateful for your honorable leadership! Kevin @ Leading with Honor

January 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Great advice. I’m working toward starting my own leadership development company and this is exactly what I need to do. Thanks, Colonel

Kevin Light
January 17, 2019 at 9:18 am

Best of luck in your new venture! We need more honorable leaders than ever. We’ll make sure that Col Ellis sees your comment. Kevin @ Leading with Honor


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