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How to Claim Your Courage at Work and Make it Work for You!

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"Courage is the first of the finest virtues making all of the other virtues possible." - Aristotle


Dear eNotAloners the topic of this "Ask the Expert" discussion is "How to Claim Your Courage at Work and Make it Work for You!" You may post your questions for Sandra in this thread. Sandra will start posting answers Thursday and the discussion will be open until Saturday.



About Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert™


Video: Courage: The Untapped Reservoir

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Sandra Walston is known as The Courage Expert™. She is a leadership consultant, national speaker, corporate trainer, Courage Coach, poet, and internationally published author. With an emphasis on understanding courage behaviors and individual personality and leadership styles, the consultant/author specializes in organizational behavior that guides people to step up to their next level ("He who hesitates before each step spends his life on one leg." – Chinese proverb).


Sandra is currently a candidate for an Honorary Doctorate Degree for her ten years of original courage research. She is the internationally published author (Greece and Brazil) of the regional bestseller link removed endorsed by Marianne Williamson, Jack Canfield, Harriet Rubin and Neale Donald Walsch, to name a few. Her second book, Courage Goes to Work (courage consciousness skills at work), extends the original research and highlights the male and female insights on the merit of courage leadership at work (this book is currently being reviewed by publishers).


Sandra provides skill-based programs for public and private businesses, including Caterpillar, Inc., Procter & Gamble, the FBI, Hitachi Consulting, IBM, Wide Open West, Society of Women Engineers, and Farmers Insurance. She is Faculty Member for The Woodhull Institute and the Advanced Management Institute. She taught for eleven years programs for the Colorado Society of CPAs and she was a former instructor at the University of Denver.


Sandra is certified in the Enneagram, a system of understanding nine different personality types within three general categories and she has advanced qualifications to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. She believes that integrating spirituality and work leads to a more naturally propelled and happy employee, resulting in reduced attrition and improved bottom-line performance. She has had her own consulting business for over 13 years and she is available for telephone consultations to discuss her expertise.


Sandra writes for Chief Learning Officer and many other magazines including Training & Development and Strategic Finance. She has been interviewed around the world and she has been a featured radio guest and television expert on courage behaviors and courage consciousness. She has been featured in The Denver Post, New Age magazine, Newsday, The Denver Business Journal, Society of Women Engineers, Executive Women, to name a few.


Visit Sandra's website at link removed or email her at email removed.

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Ok - Guess I'll go first....


FOR THURSDAY - Hello Ms. Sandra, and thank you for addressing the audience here at ENA.


Here's MY sitaution....


I work with/for my husband's company. My brother runs it.


As you can imagine, those dynamics present challenges daily. My brother has something to prove and my husband doesn't want to play favourites.


I try to conduct my self as professionally as possible for the customers sake and the other (non-related) employees. Since my brother took over, I am being utilised less and less.


I need advice in regards to finding the courage to say I don't like it and be able to say what I DO like.


What I want is to do the job I've been doing, to have my experience with this company respected and to have consideration given to my opinions. Since the "boss guy" is my brother and the guy "over his head" is my husband, conversations usually feel too emotionally charged even when I try to remove that element.


Do you have any suggestions? Or should I just seek employment elsewhere, with people who haven't actually seen what I look like in the morning?


Thanks so much for your time!



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Hello to you too


I run several businesses, including an IT consultancy which has government departs as clients. My problem is I never seem to be particulary motivated by what I am doing, its always the "next thing". For example, I always wanted to join the airforce, did so, and did really well. Then just when things were going well - I became convinced I wanted to get into business. So I did, fought all the battles, and now I am here. But now I feel like I'm not very satisfied by my work and what I do.


Its started to show to my clients and my staff, and I don't think I'm putting accross a very good impression.


Do you have any thoughts on how to "want what you have" when it comes to careers, and how to motivate yourself, and keep on track? I know when I'm motivated and working hard, I produce amazing results. The hard part is staying interested.



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Well, this isnt a courage question... But it is something that has been on my mind and I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.


I havent worked outside the home in years. In fact, on my resume there is a big huge blank from 2002 to present. The reason I have nothing to put on there is that I have been a stay at home mom / housewife in recent years. I am toying with the idea of going back into the workforce, at least part time.


Currently, for that span of years I have put something there. I have always thought that a big hole on a resume is a bad idea.


2002 - Present - Household Expert - Better known as homemaker.

I have been an at home doctor, veterinarian, chef, teacher, counselor, advisor, accountant, janitor, and child care worker. This job has required an open mind, love, and stamina.


Now, the question is this: Would it be better to rephrase that and if so how? Would it be better to just leave off with my last employment reference, an office manager/ accounting type position that I had held prior to that? (leaving a big gap there since 2002) I would be going for professional jobs and am not sure what way to go about it.

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I am interested how to approach new tasks with more self confidence.

When I get a new job, or a new task on work, I simply can't approach it with "full of self esteem" attitude.

After some time, when I connect all the dots everything is just fine. I am precise, and I like to learn all the facts about a certain task as well and the way it fits into the big picture. At the beginning I have a problem of putting it all together. I miss the forest and only see a three thats standing infront of me.

I noticed that people who give this self confident image from the start have better chances of being more recognized. Even if they have no idea how things are functioning yet they send that image of I am going to succeed.

What to do in my situation?

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I am also interested in creating a confidence me, because during appraisal my supervisor said I am not confidence with talking to people. She asked me to talk louder. I am afraid that if I talked louder it would appear to be rude.


Besides that, people at work gang together especially those with authority. I was isolated. How to change the situation? I don't want to be one of the gang member and I don't want to be isolated. How to get both at my hand?

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I am no expert on the dynamics of working in a family business. With that said, your issues at work to claim your voice, boundaries, feeling valued and considered as a team player will follow you anywhere you go. So, you may want to learn these courage skills now—you can always go someplace else—that’s always an option to direct your life with courage. Granted, as you said, these issues are usually more emotionally triggered around family members (or with friends, such as when your peer/friend at work becomes your boss).


Think about what might would happen if you calmly expressed what you need (are you able to do that in your marriage?). Most of the time, our worst thoughts (in our head) never happen. What does happen is suffering because of lack of courage action. When you start the conversation with your brother (or both), try to pick a time with optimum “mood” (receptivity) and express how much you love them and love working for a family owned business. Then, you might try saying this opening phrase, “This takes a lot of courage for me to share that I …… (whatever it is you want for your self-esteem and respect in order to work there). Using this sentence creates a different “mood” for listening. Courage is about being a voice above the crowd. A quote from my manuscript in my second book “Courage Goes to Work” says, “Candor is a cousin to courage.”


Speaking up authenticates your worth; otherwise, you live in regrets, and regrets are lost courage. For example, women have a hard time asking for a salary increase even though they were promised a year ago or confirming that they earn as much as a peer (not less). Being courageously forthright does not undermine a woman’s femininity. What this talent reveals is your level of self-esteem. If you do not ask, you do not get.

Courageously yours,


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Honestly is always the best! If you are centered in your courage (meaning “heart and spirit”—the etymology of the word) then you won’t have an issue with the “gap” of time on your resume. There’s a gap because you’ve been a courageous stay-at-home mom—good for you! Many women are currently going back into the workplace after having a child (or children)—this is actually a big issue in today’s workplace. Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of the virtues making all the other virtues possible” (and that includes honesty and integrity).


To diminish the “gap issue,” have your past work skills prepared to overcome this issue and show the interviewee that your skills have not gone cold, show how your skills are compatible with the job description, and be the first to bring the gap issue up so they don’t wonder. Tell them that you had the courage to make the tough decision to stay at home and raise your children, and now you’re ready to show your courage at work and here’s how you plan to do it…. This reveals your convictions, self-esteem, strength and determination and vision.


The thinking in our head is always worse than the outcome. Are you good at “selling” your talents? This includes speaking up to share your former skills, talents and worthiness. In other words, they would be lucky to have you!


PS: BTW, the Baby Boomers face uncertainty as they try to sustain their value. So, what am I saying? It’s all in YOUR perspective—you get to design what happens—with courage or without. With your talent it seems like the only issue for you is to reclaim your courage.


Courageously yours,


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Everyone learns in different ways. Apparently, there are 4-6 learning styles (depending on who you ask). In training presentations, I try to cover all six learning preferences. Most of us would say that we are more confident after we have learned the process (but then the learning is over). For example, deciding to do this online response format was new for me and I was unsure of myself, but I knew I could learn it even if it felt a bit awkward (and I wanted to do it right—no one wants to look like a fool!).


One of the best ways to overcome an issue such as yours (or any issue) is to have the courage to be vulnerable and tell the team members/boss, peers that regarding new projects you feel that your learning process seems to take time so that you connect the dots. Most likely, other members lacking courage will say, “Yeah, me too!” You can continue with “you may have to bear with me…,” “please ask questions,” “I love my work—I just process situations differently,” etc. In other words, be open. Most of us are so afraid to show vulnerability.


Something else, how often have you “failed” because you “miss the forest and only see three…?” If you say, “never,” then the issue is just that over time you have observed that you process new data differently (or so you seem to think). The “image of I am going to succeed” by peers is many times false bravado—a mere cover up that can intimidate. Does this happen to you? Many times when I am learning something new I tell the person, “be aware, I am a slow learner.” Of course, they laugh! Are you laughing?


Courageously yours,


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This is not so unusual. I am certified in the Enneagram which is a personality of nine “Enneatypes.” This may be something you would like to look into to see if your pattern: “on to the next thing” fits one the nine types (and, BTW, based on what you wrote, it does fit one type, but it would be way too premature for me to say). I am not a therapist so I can’t speak from some other angle; however, if you get your “juice” from enjoying the next creative adventure—what’s wrong with that? You may just be an entrepreneur at heart; however, when lack of satisfaction/passion/focus/whatever impacts staff and clients, that’s a different story—they deserve a committed boss/consultant—100%!


I am sure you have considered a change, such as selling the company or bringing in a partner so you can go do the next “thing.” Many gifted and talented people have a hard time staying interested in one opportunity especially if life is deeply valued (and there’s “so much to do” .


If you have an interest in pursuing an understanding of the Enneagram, you can go to my website home page link removed and click on Enneagram*. It will take you to an article for “beginners.” It sounds like you are self-reflective since you have detected this pattern in yourself—good for you! It takes enormous courage to invite in self-reflection. Another good website on this topic is link removed.


* Enneagram, a system of understanding nine different personality types within three general categories


Courageously yours,


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Sometimes it’s the pitch of the voice that is too soft for the person to really be able to hear you. My accountant’s voice is this way—her voice is a more soft and lower pitched, and it’s definitely hard to always hear her (even when I meet with her in person). This is a physical issue…and there are ways to improve it.


First, where did you get the opinion that “if you talk louder you would appear rude?” Rudeness is more akin to shouting or overbearing someone. Try lifting your chin and face so your throat opens. As a speaker, I am always watching the pitch of my voice for clarity. If my chin is lowered it cuts off my windpipe and then my “strong” voice (not loud or overbearing) is lost. By strong voice I mean expressing with “clarity my intent.” It sounds like some intimidation may be going on; yet, finding a “speaking voice” that commands respect and attention is a good thing (because you demand respect and deserve it). There’s a fine balance between being overbearing in tone and courageously intentional in tone.


Regarding the issue of “gang members”—do you want to be a part of this profile/group? It takes enormous courage to stand in your own dignity even if it means being isolated. The question is: what’s your perception of yourself in “isolation.” Courage is about choosing your dignity and being okay with your choices—they are called courage-action skills. Unfortunately, many work peers (and bosses) never leave the sixth grade—they isolate and punish (gossip, tease, etc.). The courageous person knows they contribute to the workplace and they continue to place “stars” on their resume (regardless of the isolation). By “stars” I mean you keep learning and advancing regardless of the barriers. In other words, you keep stepping up (and that takes courage).


Also, consider finding your courageous voice (read the response I wrote to Awdree).


Courageously yours,


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