Book of the Month Review: “In Courage” by Jill E. Young

Angie Ahrens, CMP

07 March 2019

A new year means a new you, new habits or new goals… whatever the case may be for you personally, when January hits, we all reflect on where we are in our pursuit of becoming the best version of ourselves. This brings about change and new objectives that will help us get closer to where we want to be. 

In order to determine if something new is really needed or if a change is necessary, we need to evaluate. That is why this month at Leadercast, we are focused on the theme of evaluation. When reviewing where we are and what may need to change, we also must recognize that change can be painful. Coming off of Leadercast Women 2019—Take Courage—we know being courageous in thought can set us up for success in leadership. Our book of the month for January, In Courage: How Entrepreneurs and Their Leadership Teams Can Experience Less Pain in Growth Mode by Jill E. Young, is the perfect way to kick off how courage and evaluation play into change management. 

The book is a tactical read. With each page, it provides tips that can be transferred immediately into your day-to-day. But before you can apply the tips, Jill says you must first address a key question: What are you afraid of and what is holding you back? This can be a difficult question to answer honestly as we look into the mirror. To get where you want to go, sometimes you need to ask yourself, “Where am I? Am I even facing the right direction?”

In order to be self-reflective, it is important to know where you are, where you want to be and what is holding you back from getting there. Jill explains that before you can dive into change, you need to be in the right mindset: the courageous mindset. 

The Courage Mindset, as she describes, provides a road map for you to reframe your actions, space and point of view as you prepare for change. Like a workbook, there are questions and grids for you to follow as you read, providing an avenue for you to work through where you are and see where you want to go. 

The Courage Mindset is broken down into three categories, the first being Discipline. Jill explains that you must look at your time, commitments and thoughts and be disciplined in how you treat each. To me, this is the hardest mindset as it examines current behaviors that I say I want to do, but don’t always invest in doing (like learning to say no when I already have a lot on my plate). Providing easy implementations—like the “block-and-tackle method” that says you should take 24 hours before saying yes to something—the book drove me to think more purposely about my current actions. I love the suggestion of prioritizing your people for work commitments, so if you have an assistant who is arranging your schedule, they too understand your priorities in the day. And of course, you must also check your phone only on purpose and delete those “unnecessary” apps (though I may argue Snood is absolutely necessary in the discipline of my time). 

The second mindset is Lighten Up: i.e. to change the way you communicate, feel and perceive. Jill breaks down that in language, reflection and environment, the opportunity to lighten up can really change the perspective of where you want to go. As a positive person, and as someone who thrives on making culture a top hiring point, this chapter was a fun read to me. Many times, the “fun” aspects of work can be cumbersome to leaders: How much time goes into that? Could we be losing a sale during that time frame? What is the point to get the ROI? This chapter allows leaders to see that culture and positivity really engage a team. And it isn’t always expensive or complicated. A little acknowledgment, asking the questions from more of a dreamer standpoint, and/or lightening up the visual elements of an office can go further in your and your team’s productivity. 

Experiment is the third mindset. Having the courage to try something new, and having it potentially fail, can be terrifying to a leader. After all, we have people who are looking to us as an example. Jill explains that testing, having a new approach and staying curious are all reasons why we should experiment and be that example to our teams. As someone who is fascinated with experimentation, trying new things and asking “why,” this mindset spoke to me. Combat the sacred cows, take more time to see other’s perspectives and ask yourself (one of my favorite questions), “Why is it OK to fail?” Failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re a lifetime learner, and experimentation allows us to test the wrong to validate the right. When you find the right, it’s the best feeling to have earned that with the team. 

A quick and easy read with pointed tips, this book is rife with reminders that we sometimes forget. I felt validated in the things I do and even flagged a page for my colleague who is looking to prioritize her schedule. The reality of the read is asking yourself if you are willing to take courage and evaluate your processes to navigate the need for change. If you aren’t opening your mind, you aren’t ready for it and won’t be able to implement change, let alone lead through it.

I would be curious to know your thoughts as Leadercast continues to break down the themes of Positive Disruption as we prepare for our May 7 event in Atlanta. Tell us on Twitter. If you are not in Georgia but would like to hear more about this theme of Positive Disruption, think about hosting your own Leadercast event. It could be your moment to embrace change and put you and your company on a path for growth.

*GIVEAWAY: Don’t miss your chance to win a free copy of In Courage. Follow us on Instagram at @Leadercast for details on how you can win.

Angie Ahrens, CMP

Angie Ahrens is vice president of operations at Leadercast. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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