Some weeks back I was writing a blog post about an upcoming Big Dreamers guest, Allyson Tapin, who I referred to as fearless. It got me thinking about the terms we use interchangeably for outside-the-box behavior: brave, gutsy, courageous, fearless, chutzpah, risktaker to name a few.
This reminded me of the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, where the Cowardly Lion hooks up with three pals in search of something different (in the lion's case, courage) and along the way discovers that courage isn't something that's tucked between some yellow bricks.
The irony, of course, is that the Cowardly Lion displays great bravery along his journey; leaping across a chasm with companions on his back to escape an enemy and even overcoming his own fears in hunting food for his friends. But still he thinks of himself as cowardly.
We probably all know someone whose actions we consider courageous. It might be the supervisor or manager who can always be counted on to speak up in situations that others find uncomfortable. Perhaps, it's a vendor who's willing to risk a customer's ire by revealing a flaw in their process rather than covering it up and remaining silent.
Complacency can devolve into feelings of futility (and silence) if allowed to go unchallenged. One of the biggest risks for companies hoping to come out of this economic cycle well positioned for an upswing, is to ignore the elephant in the room--silence as consensus--and then mistakenly consider this collaboration, and by association, innovation.
It might surprise you that speaking up is as much an executive and senior leader challenge as it is for hourly employees, something three U.S. professors discovered in a 10-year study they conducted that debunks four myths of why employees don't speak up. Hint: it's not always fear of retaliation that silences people.
What's in a Word?
Is resilience a form of courage? Does it take more courage to face the same (or similar) situation twice if the first time around resulted in a painful experience? Is gutsy more spontaneous behavior that doesn't always take into account longer-term consequences?
- I would say "gutsy" effects the now and "courageous" effects both the now and more importantly the future.
- Gutsy is shoot from the hip and courageous is more calculated.
- I haven't thought this through completely but "gutsy" strikes me as stepping outside your usual box in a way that's different from courageous. I think you could be a rather timid person but make a gutsy move in a certain situation - like standing up for someone else (or yourself!) Gutsy also seems more temporal.
- For me, courage implies a morally accountable bravery, while gutsy simply means willing to try something new. Sometimes, gutsy and courageous converge, but not always. For example, it takes guts and courage to speak up for the underdog. Guts because it's frightening to do something outside our everyday social interaction and courage because we weigh our personal comfort against the needs of someone else and choose to fulfill their needs. In other cases, they are completely separate. For example, gutsy people might do something outside their comfort zone that isn't too smart, but does require the ability to try something new - like skydiving, driving fast, or visiting a foreign country on the spur of the moment. And courage doesn't necessarily require us to do something new or different. For example, it takes a certain courage to stay the course and do what is required to care for an ailing partner, day after day.
- Gutsy = Tactical --> Courageous = Strategic
During our radio segment, Allyson Tapin of Women Who Tech differentiated between the two words using social media as examples: she considers herself more gutsy when she "tweets" and more courageous when she writes her blog posts.
How do you differentiate between courageous and gutsy behaviors?