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The Courage to Act

Recently, many of us read about the elite special forces policeman in Trebes France who courageously intervened in a hostage situation replacing a young woman in the grips of an ISIS gunman. Sadly, the story ended tragically for Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends who are still grieving today.

As the story goes, after agreeing to the hostage swap, Beltrame surrendered his weapon but kept his cellphone on, allowing authorities outside the store in southern France to hear what was going on inside. This gave the police valuable information needed to formulate their plan, and when the first shots rang out, they entered the store and killed the terrorist. After the tragic event, French President Emmanuel Macron said this about Arnaud Beltrame – “he died in the service of the nation to which he had already given so much. In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”

Most of us will never be faced with this type of life or death situation, but we can definitely learn valuable lessons from Beltrame’s story about the conduct of our lives. First, sometimes the courage to lead simply depends on the decision to act. Whether it’s in a dangerous situation in a public gathering or just a complicated business scenario where quick decisions are required as the situation develops – you need to ready yourself to make decisions. This takes preparation and thoughtfulness … often requiring an in-depth study of circumstances and conditions; trying out new ideas during practice sessions; or developing a decision matrix to narrow the options.

Second, you need to be willing to act – in various situations – where others are hesitant to do anything. It happens often in business today – an opportunity pops up requiring quick choices, but ‘risk averse’ executives are unable to proceed without all of the information they seek. In the end, the absence of complete analysis can actually paralyze a leader since they might be used to an endless supply of information from the internet.

Finally, you need to be ready to fail if you’re going to lead. From my experience, it’s impossible to go through life in a leadership role without making mistakes. There’s a phrase circulating lately about the need to ‘fail fast’ which means if you’re going to try something new, do it quickly and then, if you’re proven wrong, admit it, fix it and move on (reference my earlier blog on ‘Coming in Second’). Your subordinates will respect you more if you admit your mistakes openly since they, too, have many decisions to make in life and will, occasionally, err. If they see their leaders trying new and innovative things, failing once in a while, admitting mistakes and moving on, they’ll likely become more productive in the long run.

Lt Col Beltrame didn’t have all the information he needed during that hostage situation in southern France, but he still took decisive action that likely saved dozens of lives. We all salute his brave and selfless actions that day and hope we can measure up in some small way during the course of our daily lives.


Two Blue Aces' Senior Consultants have delivered countless motivational speeches around the globe using unique approaches to stimulate and energize a wide variety of audiences. These Leaders are passionate about presentations and speak with a level of expertise mastered from over three decades of military and civilian experience coupled with an underlying principle of integrity. And, they’ll tailor their experience to provide an engaging message and meet your company's needs.



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