Act Courageously: Our Core Values at Work

The next five CEO Blogs written by Curt Stutzman will focus on our core values. The first installment in this series addresses the core value described as “Act Courageously.”

Have you ever had to make a decision that you believed was right, but you knew it was not going to be well received by many? That is certainly not a comfortable activity, but is one that leaders responsible for organizational health sometimes need to make. Often, an unpopular action in the short term can yield positive results for the organization in the long term. Still, these decisions are very difficult and require the courage to take risks that many others, without all the background and perspectives that the leader has, will not understand. I recently made a decision like this, so I have first-hand experience in uncomfortable reactions from well-meaning stakeholders. I found myself consistently going back over my decision and then verifying that the process I used was appropriate and the decision, though difficult and unpopular, was right for the long term mission & health of the Messiah Lifeways.

In the devotional book, Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen writes “Courage is a spiritual virtue. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means ‘heart.’ A courageous act is an act coming from the heart. The heart, however, is not just the place our emotions are located. The heart is the center of our being, the center of all thoughts, feelings, passions, and decisions. A courageous life, therefore, is a life lived from the center. It is a deeply rooted life, the opposite of a superficial life. ‘Have courage’ therefore means ‘Let your center speak’.”

In this way, to Act Courageously means responding from the core of our being, from a heartfelt sense of what is the right thing to do, regardless of what others may think, because it is the best decision for all in the long term. In Messiah Lifeways’ Core Values document, we show an icon of a turtle whose neck is stretched forward. We often show this icon with the caption, “Behold the turtle: He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” (James Bryant Conant). Other attributes of one who demonstrates this core value are shown in the list below.


  1. Strives to do one’s best and serve as an example to others
  2. Tries new approaches and remains positive during times of change
  3. Finds ways to overcome obstacles to quality, service, productivity and/or teamwork
  4. Seeks and takes advantage of opportunities to learn and improve
  5. Consistently chooses to do the right thing and demonstrate ethical behavior

Regardless of how you choose to act courageously, think beyond any short term discomfort you may experience. When done for the right purposes and from the heart, long lasting values will result. Remember to “let your center speak.”