The Courage Solution — Book Review

The Power of Truth Telling with Your Boss, Peers, and Team

the courage solution book cover

The Courage Solution — True To Yourself

Telling the truth might be frown upon in corporations but it is one of the courage solutions. Being honest requires courage and a willingness to be vulnerable to others, but it confers many surprising benefits. First, your career success depends on your relationships: with yourself, your boss, your peers and those you lead. To move ahead, work to improve these relationships, especially your relationship with yourself.


The Courage Solution — You are 100% responsible

Hold yourself accountable and take ownership of everything you do, say and accomplish or don’t accomplish. Your relationship with yourself demands courage and truth-telling. Accept the fact that you create your own reality.

Successful leadership depends on authenticity, which demands to be honest with yourself. You will never be truthful with others if you can’t be truthful with the person in the mirror. Face up to who you are and what you can become. See yourself as a work in progress.

Everything comes down to the choices you make. Positive change starts with being willing to transform yourself. Men have a tendency to avoid critical self-analysis and many are more comfortable with self-satisfaction than any kind of self-discovery. Hence, it would take considerable courage to do so.

Create a Personal Declaration

Create a Personal Declaration, a written statement that distils important information about yourself and your priorities. This working document enables you to define yourself and develop natural, conversational talking points. You want to capture what makes you tick.

Write down details about your parents and siblings, your spouse or partner and any children, your philosophy of life (in a sentence), your guiding principles and values, your strengths and weaknesses, what you would do if you had all the money you need, and your personal and professional goals.

“Who you are as a leader either creates a tremendous positive, far-reaching impact or casts a massive shadow on the organization.”

Define in writing exactly what you want to accomplish, for instance, where you’d like to be in your family life and career in five or ten years. Revisit your personal declaration as you refine your self-awareness and goals.


As you build your self-portrait, consider these tips:

  • Mentors can be invaluable. Explain to your mentor the assistance you need.
  • Be conscious of the impression you make. Invest in quality clothing and personal tailoring to always look your best.
  • To operate at peak effectiveness, use the “Pomodoro Technique.” Your brain can maintain focus for only 25 minutes. Pomodoro calls for taking 5- to 15-minute breaks after 25 minutes of concentrated work. Try working on this schedule: “25-5-25-5-25-15.”
  • Also take time away from work to enjoy a “worry-free, unplugged vacation.”

Lead Your Boss

If your relationship with your boss is rocky, adjust the way you act to try to create a more positive, rewarding interaction. Understand that changing things for the better is your job. To transform this relationship, lead your boss.

“As long as you choose to work for your boss, your job is to get in sync with that person – not the other way around.”

Find out about your boss.

Consider his or her greatest strengths, greatest weaknesses, pet peeves or hot buttons, as well as how decision making processes and tactics for coping with conflict. Examine the real person behind the facade. Learn what energizes him or her.

To get your boss on your side, think and act like a business owner. That means rigorously investigating your firm.

  • “Why does your company exist?”
  • How does it make money?
  • Learn about its customers; profit margins; and production, marketing and overhead costs.
  • Learn how your department contributes to your company’s goals.
  • Study and embrace your firm’s culture.

Such investigative work helps you develop an enterprise-wide mindset that will impress your boss.

  • Treat your supervisor the way you want people on your team to treat you.
  • Go out of your way to anticipate issues before they become problems.
  • Deliver your work on time and according to specifications.
  • Always give your boss the benefit of the doubt.

“Leading your peers requires you to lead by example. One incredibly important way to do that is to ’fess up when you mess up.”

You and your boss will disagree. Don’t post a challenge, at least not initially. First, develop a positive working relationship. Once you establish goodwill, then you can disagree. Your boss won’t hear you if you haven’t first created a reservoir of amicable dealings.

Use these techniques to provide genuine affirmation of your boss’s daily actions:

  1. Compliment in private
    For example, you might say, “It really inspired me when you stood up in front of the organization and delivered that tough message with such compassion and balance. Great job!”
  2. Praise in public
    Compliment your boss to the next person up the ladder.
  3. Say thank-you
    Whenever your manager does something nice on your behalf, show your appreciation with a hearty thank-you. Deliver this message in person if you can; if not, a “quick text message, email or phone call will work.”

Lead Your Peers

To create a similarly solid relationship with your peers, invite each person to your home for dinner one at a time with his or her family. You can also invite your peers to lunch, again one-on-one. First, invite someone you find problematic. Your invitation will surprise contentious people.

“Pick the people you really struggle to like and invite them to your home. They will be shocked by the invitation, and you will be surprised by how fun they and their families really are.”

Do the same for an international peer who is visiting your office. Those who travel for work probably eat out routinely and would enjoy a home-cooked meal. If you’re not a cook, have something reliable delivered. When you are out of town on business, take long-distance colleagues to lunch.

People who must work or live closely together develop tensions. Don’t let tensions build. Be forthright and deal honestly with whatever is happening. Speak up for yourself if a co-worker treats you poorly.

“The minute you start courageously engaging in a new and different way, you will begin to experience the positive benefits.”

Think carefully before you speak

When you plan how to handle things this way, think carefully before you speak. Make sure you feel rested and psychologically prepared for your encounter. Dealing with the incident and your colleague in a straightforward and truthful manner usually forestalls future ill-treatment.


Sometimes, the problem doesn’t spring from someone else’s actions, but from your own. When you’re at fault, don’t feel bad. Everyone makes mistakes. When you are at fault, recognize your mistake and apologize quickly. To make an effective apology, establish eye contact, include this phrasing: “I was wrong…but more importantly, you were right,” and finish by asking, “How can I fix this?” The last question is essential. For an apology to be authentic, you must make an effort to fix the situation.

“Building a great team, just like cooking a great meal, takes planning, time and effort. When well done, the result is delicious.”

Here’s how to build lasting relationships with your peers –

  1. Asking for their assistance 
    Demonstrate your vulnerability in areas where they have skills and abilities that you lack. Let your colleagues know you recognize their expertise.
  2. Giving them a platform
    For instance, ask them to address a session you’re leading.
  3. Offering assistance 
    Ask if you can do anything to provide support.
  4. Endorsing and encouraging them
    Assure your colleagues that they’d done a good job or suggest ideas that support their projects. This is a deposit in “your mutual relationship’s bank account.”

Read more on this from “How to win friends and influence people

Read The Courage Solution



Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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