Courage as the catalyst of visionary leadership By Bayo Ogunmupe The writer and clergyman Sydney Smith asserted, 'A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage'. To discover and grow visionary leadership, you need courage. Before he joined the army, Winston Churchill desired to create a reputation for bravery. But he didn't know whether he had the talent for it. Then he went to Cuba to test his courage in a controlled environment. He understood that a person doesn't know what he is really made of until tested. If you fear the test then you never get the chance to develop your vision. Our courage is tested when we respond to changes when inactivity is more comfortable. Never leaving the familiar means you are comfortable. But your willingness to let go of the familiar means you are courageous. Greatness is founded on bravery. It takes courage to escape from old ideas and respectable ways of doing things. To become a visionary leader you must be willing to give up the present to become all you can be. By leaving your comfort zone and bravely striving on, you can reach heights you thought were impossible. The opposite of courage is cowardice. Cowardice is conformity. It isn't enough to believe in something; you must live it. Learning and growing require action. Learning forces a change in behaviour. You haven't learned a thing until you can take action and use it. From knowledge comes strength that subconsciously inspires you to push on in the face of stiff opposition. No one makes the most of his talent in isolation. Which is why you must seek the cooperation of others in order to accomplish your aims. By treating others better than they treat you, you make others willing to work with you. People admire leaders and innovators. People honour them, historians write books about them; sculptors chisel their images on the face of hills. However, others want to knock them down. thus, if you want greatness, you never wait for a crowd. You strike out alone. That takes nerves and grit, so you must have both. Greatness is the accomplishment of things which people think were impossible. Adversity is the enemy of progress; so as you move forward, obstacles get in your way. How you overcome obstacles teaches you about yourself. Success makes you wiser and stronger. Greatness is gained by facing difficulties with courage. If you wish to develop more courage, then do the following. One, courage is inside not outside of yourself. During the great Depression in America, the great inventor Thomas Edison, delivered his last public message. He said, "Be courageous, I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always the nation has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith, go forward." Edison knew that when we experience fear, we must move forward. Courage starts from the mind before it is displayed. Two, grow courage by doing the right things, not the expedient. Florence Nightingale observed, :Courage is the virtue of those who choose the right thing over the expedient thing. It is the common currency of those who do what they are supposed to do in time of conflict, crisis and confusion." Three, taking small steps of courage prepares you for greater challenges. Mostly, we want to grow quickly, but genuine growth is slow. To be successful therefore, we must start from small things and do them everyday. Your life changes when you change something you do everyday. Which means being made a leader won't give you courage but courage can make you a leader. Former British premier Margaret Thatcher remarked, "Being a leader is a lot like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are one, you aren't." The position does not make a leader. The leader makes the position. Leadership is an expression of courage that compels you to do the right at all times. Your influence expands with each courageous act you espouse. People who are willing to take risks, explore their limits, and are ready to experience defeat will go farther than those who timidly follow the safe path of living. When you resolve to sacrifice lesser ambitions to your great aim, to stand alone, firm in your purpose, you set in motion the divine forces God has implanted in you for your greatness. Therefore, visionary leadership means you have developed convictions that are stronger than your fears. Your vision must be clearer than doubts. Your tenacity of purpose must be stronger than popular opinion. Your dissatisfaction with the Nigerian reality must be more forceful than the status quo. Your risk taking must be stronger than your desire for personal security. Your desire to serve justice must be more robust than rationalization. Your goal of realizing your full potential must be more than seeing people appeased. Only courage can propel you to greatness. You must trade what you have for what's best for your success.