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Courage as a Skill


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Acts of courage, from defending ethical principles to advocating for sustainable practices, happen every day in online communities. Yet, what drives such bold actions? Contrary to the traditional image of spontaneous heroism, courage is often the result of deliberate risk-taking, honed through years of experience and thoughtful decision-making.

Understanding Business Courage

Courage in business settings usually involves a strategic approach. It's a skill developed over time, emerging from a series of calculated decisions rather than impulsive acts that blend together conscience, action, and deep-seated values like honor and duty.  

The Process of Calculated Risk-Taking

Successful leaders in online communities often exhibit a willingness to make bold decisions, but this isn't mere recklessness. They rely on a structured approach to risk-taking, known as the 'courage calculation', which consists of several key processes:

  • Setting Goals: Defining clear, attainable primary and secondary objectives is crucial. These goals should align with both personal ambitions and the larger good of the community or organization.
  • Determining Goals' Importance: Assessing the significance of these goals helps in deciding whether the risks involved are worth taking. High-stakes issues demand more careful consideration and potentially courageous action.
  • Tipping the Power Balance: Understanding and leveraging the dynamics of power within the community can be a crucial factor. Building a network of support and influence can pave the way for successful risk-taking.
  • Weighing Risks and Benefits: Analyzing the potential gains against the risks involved is a vital step. It's about understanding the consequences of action (or inaction) and its impact on the community and oneself.
  • Selecting the Right Time: Timing is key. Effective leaders possess an innate sense of when to act, balancing urgency with the need for thorough preparation.
  • Developing Contingency Plans: Preparing for various outcomes, including failure, is essential. This involves creative thinking and readiness to adapt to different scenarios.

Applying the Courage Calculation 

In online communities, where interactions and decisions often have immediate and widespread effects, applying the courage calculation can be particularly effective. For instance, a community leader might need to decide whether to publicly stand against certain harmful online behaviors. They would need to consider the potential impact on the community's culture, weigh the risks of backlash against the benefits of setting a positive precedent, and choose the right moment for their stand, ensuring they have adequate support and backup plans.


Courage in online communities is less about heroic, spur-of-the-moment acts and more about careful, strategic decision-making. By applying the principles of the courage calculation, leaders can navigate complex situations with a balanced approach, leading to actions that are not only bold but also beneficial for their communities and their own professional trajectory. This process empowers them to act with conviction, backed by a well-thought-out plan that increases their chances of success.

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