Purposeful Brave

A group gathered today at the beautiful 42 acres in Shoreditch, London, for the 2nd ScrumEx of the year. As always, it was wonderful to feel part of a community so committed to making the world of work a better place. I suppose you could say that is our joint purpose – it’s how I felt standing alongside these people anyway. Again, I was encouraged by the group’s willingness to stretch themselves for this cause. How deep people will dig in the name of self-improvement, and, ultimately, to help others.

During one of the self-generated sessions, we played with the idea of creating a ‘brave space’ rather than a ‘safe space’ for ourselves, our communities, and the teams we serve. The idea of a brave space, as I interpreted it, was that we shouldn’t wait for someone to create conditions that allow for the free and open exchange of conflicting ideas and direct challenge without the possibility of negative consequence or retribution – rather we should seek to create a brave space through active and balanced participation. Space where people will openly stand-up and support a cause they believe in, and be willing to experience some level of discomfort in the process. I liked this. It aligns to my belief that everyone is whole and infinitely capable in their own right. When I consider the idea of a safe space, although I see it’s well-intended, I start to ponder; who are these betters, these people that create this safe space? And, if these heroes exist who is the lesser? Who gets to decide who’s who in this perverse set-up?

Now, the word brave has obvious connotations to me. When I think of the word brave I think of physically strong, of courage under fire, of the bold and the brash. I think of big brave. I can think of many times in my life where this type of brave has served me and those around me well – personally and professionally. I seem to possess the ability to display this type of courage and see this a largely positive trait – it’s often how I show up.

However, I have learned that there is a more valuable type of brave that is gentle, vulnerable, and patient. A brave that is full of self-doubt, admits weakness, feels pain, but centres around a commitment to a meaningful cause and holds on to an ideal unwavering. This is the type of brave that might not win the moment. It often talks in whispers and may even be silent. This is courage based on integrity, commitment, and respect. It creates connections that are infinitely lasting and seems to have the power to enact real meaningful change.

So, let us focus on creating a space that is fearless and full of courage, but one that respects all kinds of people. A space that understands that although big brave might be necessary at times, it should not be put on a pedestal, and is certainly not the end goal. We should seek a balanced and purposeful kind of brave that supports our chosen cause and ultimately leads to positive and meaningful outcomes – whatever they may be.

Go to the profile of Paul Marshall

‘I help teams re-frame how they think about product development.’

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