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Karin’s Leadership Articles

I’ve been thinking about fear and courage more than I care to these days.

I am watching my mother handle a poorly timed and devastating cancer diagnosis with grace, optimism and courage. We are all scared. We are following her lead. Everything is suddenly put into amazing perspective. We hope, we learn, we get more information, we wish we had more, sometimes we wish we had less.

“Courage is a special kind of knowledge; the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared, and how not to fear what ought not to be feared. From this knowledge comes an inner strength that subconsciously inspires us to push on in the face of great difficulty. What can seem impossible is often possible, with courage.”
~David Ben-Gurioun, The First Prime Minister of Israel

Sometimes we feel courageous, sometimes we do not. We are all doing the best we can.

She is an inspiration.

Moms are always teaching.

And meanwhile, we try to go on with our lives and so I go to work, and church, and to my children’s activities. I am now ultra-sensitive to acts of courage and lack thereof.

We all know examples of the human spirit rising in the biggest challenges. I know you also have them in your family.

How can we bring more courage to our daily living and leading?

I have noticed that the stories we have most wanted to tell during this time are those of courage. Stories of supporting the underdog. Stories of taking the controversial view. Stories of when our talk got mixed reviews. Stories of leaving the easy path.

Courage creates lasting stories 

Courage inspires great leadership

Courage inspires great loving

Courage inspires great leading

And so I am inspired to wonder what can be learned from these times of big courage?

What can we do to become more brave right now?

Why do we…

  • listen to those who tell us our dreams are not practical?
  • back down when we know we are right?
  • withhold the most important coaching?
  • tell our boss what we think will please him, instead of what he needs to hear?
  • sacrifice our principles to fit in?
  • implement initiatives we question without asking the right questions?
  • delay starting something we know will make a difference?
  • ???

When the going gets tough, the tough do get going. But when life is more benign, we may back away. We question the effort. We over-value the costs.

How do we get more big courage right now?

Where do you need to be more brave?

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Steve Borek

    Sorry to hear about your Mom. She sounds like a person that takes life what gives her and she does the best with the cards that have been dealt.

    My thoughts are with your entire family for what must be an emotional roller coaster.

    I like your “Why do we” list. For me, it all comes down to living an authentic life in the moment. Don’t put off what you can do right now.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steve, thanks so much for your caring words. I agree…it does come down to living the best we can every day.

  2. Chery Gegelman

    Karen, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I will pray for wise doctors, physical, mental and spiritual strength for her. I hope this season in your lives will bring you closer and be filled with special memories, and that she will ultimately be healthy again.

    Courage has been a big focus in my life too for a variety of reasons. Most recently in learning about a pending move overseas to the only place in the world we said we never wanted to live. So blog will reflect some of that journey this week and more of that the months ahead.

    When I need to be brave: I listen to music that is filled with vision and purpose,I watch movies that remind me of others that have walked through devastating times and become softer, wiser and stronger because of those times, I talk to friends, read books, study scripture, journal and pray.

    Consider yourself hugged!


    • letsgrowleaders

      Chery, thanks so much for your very kind comment, thoughts and prayers. I am very interested to hear more about what is going on for you. Hugs back.

  3. Sarah Y

    I didn’t get to say this to you in person yesterday at church, but I’ve been thinking of you since you shared about your mom and wanted to let you know that I’ll be keeping you and her in my thoughts. I also learned a great deal about courage when my mother battled cancer ten years ago. Maybe part of me wishes that I hadn’t had to learn about my mother’s bravery in the context of what turned out for me to be a devastating loss. But my family has stories now about my mother and how she refused to stop fighting, even when her doctors had given up on her. These stories help us get through difficult times–recently they helped my sister when she was recovering from a difficult and painful surgery. Someday I’ll pass the stories down to my daughters.

    You’re right, though–it can be more difficult to have real courage when things are going smoothly. Right now, I’m starting off on a new career, and it requires a real leap of faith on my part and on the part of my family, because there is no guarantee that I’ll succeed. But I know in my heart that now is the time for me to do this–it’s now or never. So I’m taking that leap.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Sarah, Thanks so much for your very thoughtful comment. It sounds like we should connect soon. I am also very interested to hear about your new endeavor.

  4. Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)

    Praying for you, your mom and your family.

    Where do I find more courage?

    I like a few quotes I use often.

    In situations like this, I remember…. “Don’t tell your God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big your God is.”

    • letsgrowleaders

      Eric, ohhhh I love that one! That may be my new favorite quote. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.

  5. Anonymous

    Not everyone can or is brave enough to face the tough choices or provide direction. It falls to the truly courageous to provide the example for others and to keep things moving in the right direction. Unfortunatley we live in fearful times…now when we need those examples most we find they are in short supply.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks so much for your very insightful comment. I agree… courage can be very hard, and some choices are too hard to bare. I love your addition of the power of setting examples when we can. Thank you for adding that.

  6. Helen

    Prayers and wishes of strength to your Mum. Reading your posts inspires and gives me courage, as I’m sure it does many others.

  7. letsgrowleaders

    Helen, Thank you so much for the prayers and wishes… that means so much. Thanks also for that feedback. What a wonderful comment to wake up to this am.

  8. adminrenegade

    Wonderful ‘Why’ questions… My best friend always tells me that Courage is fear that has said its prayers……. sending you positive vibes…

    • letsgrowleaders

      That is one of my favorite quotes… thanks so much for adding that.

  9. Sarah Beakes

    Karin – I’m sorry to hear of your mom’s diagnosis. I fondly remember meeting her at Seb’s birthday party years ago. I hope she will pull through and be there for many more celebrations! Wishing you and your family strength and courage during this challenging time.
    Warm regards,
    Sarah (Nicola’s mom from the Knowledge Beginning days)

  10. letsgrowleaders

    Sarah, so fantastic to hear from you. Thank you so much, we appreciate all the warm wishes. Seb has been thinking about Nicola… we hope everyone is doing well. Would love to get together some time.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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