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June 4, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

In Search of Courage by John McCain

In Search of Courage by John McCain in Fast Company Magazine

Here is a snippet of John McCain’s manifesto on courage which originally appeared in Fast Company:

Courage is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the stronger it gets. I sometimes worry that our collective courage is growing weaker from disuse. We don’t demand it from our leaders, and our leaders don’t demand it from us. The courage deficit is both our problem and our fault. As a result, too many leaders in the public and private sectors lack the courage necessary to honor their obligations to others and to uphold the essential values of leadership. Often, they display a startling lack of accountability for their mistakes and a desire to put their own self-interest above the common good.

That means trouble for us all, because courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion, and humility. In short, leaders who lack courage aren’t leaders.

Without courage, all virtue is fragile: admired, sought after, professed, but held cheaply and surrendered without a fight. Winston Churchill called courage “the first of human qualities . . . because it guarantees all the others.” That’s what we mean by the courage of our convictions. If we lack the courage to hold on to our beliefs in the moment of their testing, not just when they accord with those of others but also when they go against threatening opposition, then they’re superficial, vain things that add nothing to our self-respect or our society’s respect for the virtues we profess. We can admire virtue and abhor corruption sincerely, but without courage we are corruptible.

(Thanks to social entrepreneurs Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek for suggesting this article on courage)

One Comment

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  1. Jill / Jun 6 2010 5:38 am

    What an amazing manifesto! McCain uses his successes, his experience, his failures and his passion in everything he does. This should be posted throughout the media to show his integrity and compassion.

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