The Many Faces of Courage

Courage in conversations looks and sounds different for each person. For one individual, speaking to anybody takes courage. For another, chit chat comes easily but initiating an important conversation feels difficult and takes courage. Others feel fearful if they anticipate any conflict, so for them, engaging with someone with whom there could be conflict becomes exceedingly stressful. Some people handle conflict well but have difficulty showing/sharing anything vulnerable. They are comfortable with ideas but uncomfortable when feelings are expressed. For them, engaging in a conversation in which people are sharing real feelings takes a great deal of courage.

In a five day leadership course this past week called Introspection for Leadership Excellence, each person exhibited interpersonal courage. It was beautiful to experience each person working on their own edge to show up more authentically, to stand in their leadership shoes, and to risk being more of who they really are and want to be. Each time someone revealed themselves to the group, they were met with warmth, encouragement, and appreciation. Though we/they didn't express it as love, the way they each showed how much they respected, valued, admired, and believed in each other were expressions of love, at least in my book.

In this climate of acceptance and trust, taking risks to be courageous interpersonally was perhaps a little easier than in “real life.” The rewards were more apparent and it was easier to believe that the fears that normally hold us back would not come to pass.

However, no matter what, courage implies a risk. There is always a chance that your worst fears might be realized. If you take an interpersonal risk and are courageous, people could ignore you, ridicule or humiliate you, or just downright reject you. You have to feel as if you can handle the worst that could happen in order to be courageous.

This group of individuals could have played it safe all week in attempts to make a good impression on the others in their cohort. Instead, one by one, they chipped away at the walls they had erected to protect themselves and revealed more of the richness that lay inside. Some trembled as they were courageous. Others cried. Others were more measured. But each in their own way showed the many faces of courage...and magnificence.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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