“Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Ernest Becker’s classic work, Denial of Death, in which he acknowledges that no one can deny physical death but there is an another form of death that can be denied: That which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us.
Why did Kimberly Davis write Brave Leadership? What are her expectations with regard to the tools she provides? “While the content orfginated in the acting world, it is just as relevant outside the theater. These tools are a powerful mechanism to help us — myself included — get out of our own way so that we can bring our true selves, more powerfully, to whatever situation we’re facing. They help with leadership, influence, presence, and presenting. They help us understand the needs of our employees and our customers, and they helpus when the stakes are high. These tools make it possible to be mndful and puroseful in the face of vulnerability, ambiguity, stress, change, and all of life’s challenges, for better results” and then adds, “They help us be brave.”
Davis obviously agrees with Becker that people must not become hostage to others’ expectations of them, and with two of Socratic admonitions in Plato’s Apology: “Know thyself” (inscribed on the frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi), and, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It really does take courage to accept who we are, who we really are. And it takes even more courage to embrace that truth and then allow it to guide and inform our personal growth and professional development.
These are among the passages (in Chapters 1-16) of greatest interest and value to me:
o We’re Not in Kansas Anymore (Pages 17-19)
o The Truth About Who You Are (48-50)
o It’s OK to Have Needs (53-56)
o Vulnerabiligty on the Stage of Life (75-80)
o The Survival Bubble (82-83)
o Life Emulates Art (90-94)
o What’s the Problem with Goals? (102-104)
o In the Eye of the Beholder (114-116)
o Coffee, People, and Purpose (120-125)
o Reaction or Choice (135-141)
Readers will appreciate the “Key Takeways” section at the conclusdion of each of the 24 chapters. This material will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points later. I also highly recommend “The Brave Leradership Masnifesto” in which Kimberly Davis shares many of the core principles that have helped her and countless others to unleash their most confident, powerful, and authentic self in order to get the results they need.
I presume to add another point to consider: There can be no courage when there is an absence of fear just as there can be no faith when there is an absence of doubt. The challenge is to summon courage despite fear and to summon faith despite doubt. That is true of all great leaders throughout history and can also be true of us. Henry Ford nailed it years ago: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”