Courage – Leadership is a Choice #37

Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


courage1It takes courage to stand up on a stage and talk to hundreds of people about a topic you are passionate about.

It takes courage to sit in front of one person and really allow yourself to get consumed by your passion for a topic without fear of their opinion.

It takes courage to wake up and get out of bed on the days that seem to be filled with more darkness than light.

It takes courage to declare you deserve happiness just as much as everyone you have been serving for years.

It takes courage to make choices that are different from the ones you have always made.

It takes courage to fight the comfort of what you have always been taught and choose to a live a life of choice.

How do we get that courage? And how does courage play into my personal responsibility journey?

I have been a public speaker for about two years now. I’ve spoken to hundreds of people at a time on big stages and little stages all across the US and Canada. I absolutely adore being on stage. I love seeing the metaphorical light bulbs go off in the audience when they grasp a new concept or realize how much choice they have in their lives. I love even more the time after the presentation when those courageous individuals come forward to share a breakthrough or ask for some one on one time.

Public speaking wasn’t something I ever imagined I would get into. For a long time I was very much comfortable to hide behind a keyboard. In high school I hated having a room full – let alone an auditorium full – of eyes on me.

One terrifying experience included being pulled on-stage during a chorale concert and instructed in front of a full house to make ridiculous hand motions and sing along with the group. If I could have wished for anything in that moment it would have been to be invisible, or to crawl inside my turtle shell and hide until it was all over.

So how did I go from the girl who would get nervous and fumble over every word whenever I had to speak in front of the class to the woman who gets to talk in public forums on a regular basis?


Well more specifically – not caring about what everyone else thought. That’s the secret to finding your courage quickly.

I know this seems harsh, but what was limiting and making those stages look so scary was this deep care for the opinions of those in the audience. Even more so, the fear that they would think I was stupid, or unqualified to be on that stage.

A very wise man on a mentoring call for The Leadership Gift Program told me that I care too much. This seemed odd to me, can someone really care too much? I was stuck because I believed at the time that if I didn’t care about what people thought then I wasn’t a good person. (Subjective vocabulary can really mess with your head – but that’s a blog for another day.)

My training as a Scrum Master before this moment had taught me to be servant and I had made the assumption that to serve others I must care about their opinions and thoughts.

I am not telling you to stop caring about people’s opinions.

The lesson here is to care without assigning your self-worth or self-image to their opinion. If they have the opinion that what you are doing isn’t “right” they are welcome to have that opinion, but it does not mean that you are “wrong”.

I started applying this idea in other areas beyond public speaking and realized the less I allowed the opinions of others to alter or trigger my shame the easier it was to be courageous and make choices focused on me.

My confidence grew as did my happiness. Additionally and surprisingly, my ability to respect and truly hear other people grew as well.

Hearing others was no longer about who was right and who was wrong, or about how scary their opinion of me could be. It was about hearing them, actually listening to what they were saying instead of immediately assuming what it meant about me.

So how do you get courage to do all the things you want to do, all the things you thought you never could? You stop taking the opinions of others and tying them back to your self-worth and self-respect.

How others feel and how others think, whether they express it or not, is theirs alone. It doesn’t change who you are, or what you are capable of doing.




Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of nonprofit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.



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Posted in Responsibility on 01/11/2016 01:05 am
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