We are approaching the final quarter of 2017. How is the year going for you so far? I’m hoping it’s productive, both personally and professionally.

I also wish you courage in tackling the challenges that lie ahead in the remainder of the year. We’re all facing challenges. Some will be easy to address, others not so much. Some may well test the limits of our abilities.

Adversity Reveals Character

In the last three weeks of 2016, I had the honor of attending to my father in hospice care. He was 94. My dad and I had never been really close. We weren’t estranged; we just weren’t close. One reason was distance – for much of the last 30 years I’ve lived up to half a continent away from my parents. Another reason was just the nature of our relationship – we’re two guys, not terribly demonstrative – more head-focused than heart-focused. (I’m working on that. Married to a therapist, I’m regularly encouraged to get in touch with my feelings.)

Anyway, Dad was in hospice care at home. We went down to Virginia to spend a long weekend with him and my mom. It became pretty clear that he was deteriorating rapidly and I decided that I wanted to be with him in his last days. I wanted to be part of making his final days as comfortable as possible for him.

So I watched this man, who had lived a long life, go through his final days, knowing that today was the best he would be. Tomorrow, he’d be weaker, and weaker the day after that and the day after that. He knew the end was coming; he didn’t know when. He could experience this daily deterioration for a few more days or a couple of weeks.

Needless to say, it was sad to watch. But it was also tremendously uplifting to be part of. Dad showed great courage in meeting the end of his life. He never complained; never was demanding. He knew what was happening. He accepted it.

Acceptance of the inevitable often takes great courage. One of my favorite quotes: “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals character.”

Courage = Heart

Throughout this year, Abbie McGilvery – a social media strategist based here in Portland, Maine – has focused on bravery and courage. She’s noted that her clients are “brave people who don’t always see themselves as brave…we all make decisions in our lives, every day, that require courage.” She points out that the root of the word courage is cor, which means heart, “and it takes your whole heart to make a decision that is really difficult…and to just do it anyway.”

Abbie mentioned that this year was a “chance to choose who we are, how we will lead in the world.” She’s decided to say yes to the tough stuff; she is “just going to ‘show up.’”

How Will You Lead?

So, for the last quarter of 2017, how will you lead? What kind of courage will it take for you to “show up” and say yes to tough stuff? How will the tough stuff reflect your character?


A version of this post occurred in my newsletter in January. If you like this post, you can get my best work delivered to your inbox every other week. It’s free and I don’t share your information with anyone. Just click on this link and subscribe.

Photo of Carleton Woodard by Chris Reed Woodard.