Give up Being Right

Dusty Staub Courage to Learn and Grow 0 Comments


How can it be smart to give up being right? The willingness to give up proving what you know, and to instead step into the confusion and ambiguity of the unknown, is an act of courage. When you choose to discover what you do not yet know, you open yourself to learning and growing. This act of courage is closely aligned with the courage to be confronted, which I have described in other writings. Letting go of having all the answers is another way to understand, appreciate and connect more deeply with others.


As people get older, they become wiser and more open to life only if they cultivate the courage to learn and grow instead of insisting on old ways of thinking and acting. Unfortunately, many individuals grow more rigid and close-minded as they age. I say they have been afflicted with the dread disease, “Hardening of the Categories”, a mental prison that limits understanding, inhibits growth and degrades joy in life.


What can you do to develop the courage to learn and grow? Take note of the times you catch yourself insisting (even in the privacy of your own mind) that you are right. Then choose to focus on how you can be more influential and positive in relating to others. Invite novel information and viewpoints, as described by Warren Berger in his book A More Beautiful Question.   You can also pay attention to the actions you avoid taking because you are uncertain or unclear about them. What new information would help you? Do you care to acquire a new skill, or instead to find someone reliable to outsource difficult tasks to? Who can be your ally in learning? Who will remind you that a mistake or early failure is a lesson, not a sin?


Ultimately, it is the courage to learn and grow that shapes our capacity as a civilization and brings big and juicy dreams into fruition. As in all things, this happens one courageous individual at a time. So, what new thing will you learn today?

by Robert E. Staub

The Gift of Active Listening

Dusty Staub Courage to be Confronted 0 Comments

The courage to be confronted is the courage to hear the things you don’t want to hear. This can include information that is new to you or something that challenges your sense of reality. It might be about the negative impact of your words and behaviors, or it might point to the consequences of failing to take action. Courage is required because hearing such things from others is usually painful. Yet, when you stay open to difficult feedback–without shutting down, defending, denying or counter-attacking–you stay open to learning, growing, and building stronger relationships. If you model listening, and respond non-defensively, you invite others to do the same. By actively seeking to understand other viewpoints–you are not required to agree with these–you help to cure intolerance and cultivated ignorance.


Integrity is like a two-sided coin. It requires that you speak your truth and also that you model the courage to hear the truth of others, especially when you disagree or when they are being critical of you. Integrity is very demanding and does not wait on comfort or peace of mind; it challenges you to speak up and to also then listen carefully to others. Learning to listen openly, actively and non-defensively is nearly a lost art form in our society.   Yet, without it, we all risk being blind-sided in our relationships, at work and in our society (witness the 2016 election results in the United States). Developing the courage to be confronted generates powerful outcomes: when you get insight into how others think, feel and perceive, you also acquire a greater capacity to positively influence others.


Are you ready to generate greater personal integrity? Would you like to minimize the chance of being blindsided? Would you like to be more influential with others? You can develop the courage to be confronted by frequently asking others the following question: “What is the one thing I could change that would make the biggest positive difference in our way of relating or working together?” Look for any patterns or themes in the feedback you get; these are the most important to work with.


If you care to make this world a kinder, better place, then I invite you to model the courage to be confronted as a crucial behavior toward that goal. Now, let me go ask my wife what she has to say to me…


By Robert E. Staub


Speaking Truth to Power

Dusty Staub Courage to Confront 0 Comments

The Quakers have a beautiful saying, “Speaking truth to power.” This quote captures the essence of what I call the Courage to Confront. If you lack this capacity, you cannot move with integrity in the world. You are holding something vital back. If you wish to move from your current reality toward your dreams, you must be able speak your truth into the world–to yourself and to others–with compassion and grace. Shouting at others or speaking up only when you are angry, is not what I mean by confronting. That is dumping on others. People do not listen when we dump on them; they shut down, withdraw or dump back on us. I repeat, this is NOT the courage to confront. It might get media coverage or boost social media followership, but it will not serve anyone in the long run. It is far more likely to start a war – whether at home, at work, or between nations.

The courage to confront is to speak with both grace and clarity as to what you believe to be true, what you see and what you feel. However, if your way of “confronting” is to make the other side completely wrong, to blame or to shame, then you are off the path and lack the courage to really speak from your heart. The heart does not blame; it discerns what is and speaks simply and directly. Finding the courage to speak up, to share what you are seeing, feeling or thinking in a positive and compassionate way is liberating. You feel both more powerful and also more engaged with yourself and the world. This means finding your true voice and expressing yourself – knowing you have a right, just as all do, to be heard.

Are you willing to find your way back to your authentic voice, the part of you that not only dreams for a better tomorrow, and clearly sees the current reality, but is also willing to speak up, owning insights and truths without making others wrong? Make a list of the things you have not been saying but that you know need to be said. Then feel into what keeps you from speaking up in your true, authentic voice. Remember to tap into the resources–internal and external–that you have available to support taking a stand. Remember the honest, direct statements that are made by the very young, and how these most often do not carry the personal judgment and condemnation that adults use. Practice truth telling in a journal or by speaking to your mirror. Then graduate to sharing with those others who are prepared to listen non-defensively and who will help you clarify your position through thoughtful questions or comments. By taking different perspectives into account, your own message will become more powerful.


Finally, with your message clearly in mind, dare to speak your truth. The world needs you to do it!


By Robert E. Staub

A Strong Foundation

Dusty Staub Courage to See Current Reality 0 Comments

Without a clear-eyed view of what you have working for you, and against you, you have no ground upon which to stand from which to move towards your dreams. The courage to dream is just a pipe dream unless you develop the courage to see your current reality. Unfortunately, there are powerful psychological defenses–such as rationalization, denial, blame, and projection–which can keep you from clearly seeing your strengths, challenges and growth opportunities.

The courage to see current reality means taking 100% responsibility for your life, no matter what. If you wish to know your greatest resource, then look into a mirror. If you wish to meet the opponent who most often stands in your way, then keep looking into that mirror. You are both: your greatest ally and your strongest enemy. In addition, of course, you do need to recognize the people who will support you, and also those who may hinder you. Fate may stack the deck for or against you as well. In the end, however, it is harnessing your heart and facing “what is” with courage that will help you chart the course to your desired destination.   This is not a just a feel-good, all-too-easy truth. There are those who will go so far as to risk the possibility of death, because a life with honor, justice, and dignity is what they hold closest to their hearts.

To more clearly see your current reality, there are four powerful questions you can begin to ask of yourself and those around you. The first is, “What are the top two things to celebrate about my life right now?” The second key question is, “What are the top one or two things that are wrong, that need to be addressed or fixed?” The third question is, “What is the one thing that is missing that, if added, would make things work better?” And, finally, the fourth important question is, “What is most confusing for me that, if clarified, would help provide meaningful focus?”

Feel free to expand on the list of strengths, talents, allies and resources you already have available to you. Draw on these as you take on some of the other acts of courage I have written about, such as the courage to confront, to be confronted, and to be vulnerable. Be here now…so you can get to where you want to go tomorrow!

The Power Of A Clear Vision

Dusty Staub Courage to Dream 0 Comments

Proverbs says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Why is having a vision so important? The answer is that when individuals, organizations, and even entire societies have the desired destination clearly in mind, they can make necessary course adjustments accordingly.

On a personal level, your dream is meant to inform your major life decisions as well as your smallest daily actions. Through the power of clear focus, you have a much greater chance of making the choices that will help create the life you truly intend. Doing this takes courage, since our world has so many naysayers, critics, and now, Internet trolls. Besides those others who would tell you “no” or “you can’t”, you have to contend with your own inner critic, your self-doubt and fear of failure. So it is often truly daring to dream something big and authentic, and then to express that dream, to put it out into the circle of your family, friends and colleagues.

On a social level, it is crucial to have a vision that encompasses core values everyone can agree to. When polarized views, as for instance seen in national and international politics, threaten the very fabric of society, we must look to the leaders who can remind us of our common human values and needs. Fairness, respect, sanctity of life, order. Clean air, clean water, food and shelter. When people can agree on the “what”, it makes it much easier to dance with the “how” in more imaginative, mutually beneficial ways. It takes courage because courage is about heart-centered solutions that may demand change and disrupt the status quo. Courageous actions are not always the easy ones to take, but in the end, the solutions that work for the common good will stand the test of time.

Dare to dream big. I invite you to take ten minutes and write down your chief aspirations in life. Note what you most wish to achieve, to create. What is it you most deeply desire? What gifts do you have to share? What do you wish to leave as your legacy? Now, with the end in mind, begin today, and every day, anew

The Courage to Dream

Dusty Staub Courage to Dream 0 Comments

It seems to me that the world is stuck. We have political parties with seemingly irreconcilable differences, polarizing opinions on guns, abortion, the environment, with no signs of compromise and no apparent hope of resolution. The rancor from all sides has devolved to a single position: “Just say no.” No matter what price there is to pay. I’ve spent my life thinking about leadership and courage and over the next several posts to these pages I will offer my thoughts on the Courage it takes to Lead.


The courage to dream and put forth your dream is essential if you are to claim the power to create your life and bring out the best in yourself and others. It allows you to orient yourself at any time and in any place, based on a consistent vision that forms the inner core of your amazing strength. This act allows you to pursue what you most desire, pulling you toward a more powerful sense of self and self-worth.


This act of courage requires simply that you claim all you aspire to be. What is your dream, your deepest desire? What do you hold most dear? What would you bring to life if you could? What is the “song of glory” you wish to sing?


What does it mean to “sing a song of glory?” I have an idea: Remember, if you can, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King developed and refined his dream over many years and gave voice to his “song of glory,” his dream of a nation undivided by prejudice and hatred. Many listened to his song and took courageous steps toward greater racial equality and harmony as a result. But the song is not finished and did not die with him. The song lives on, touching and inspiring others with its power and affirmation, and people continue to sing that song of freedom and equality. His courage to dream and put forth that dream has been a great gift for us all.


The courage to dream and put forth that dream requires that you formulate a vision for your life. You must craft your dream, refining it through each major challenge you face. Then, you must communicate your vision – whether in a relationship, at team, at work, or in community – and engage others in its creation. As you live your dream, clarifying and articulating it as you go, you give voice to your own unique “song of glory.”