ATHENA Leadership Virtue: Courageous Acts

The York County Economic Alliance recently launched their new Professional Women's Alliance (PWA) to share resources that celebrate, support, promote, and advance the success of women in business. The PWA's first event was a luncheon featuring past ATHENA recipients who spoke about the individual virtues that make up the ATHENA Leadership Model. They have graciously agreed to share their perspectives here, as well.

By: Deb Stock

COURAGEOUS ACTS, as defined by Athena:

  • the willingness to stand alone & speak the truth
  • to question the assumptions
  • to challenge the status quo
  • the determination to ACT in the face of fear.

When we hear the word "courage," we often think of great acts of valor. But courage doesn’t always roar. Courage is often quiet. It’s about finding your voice and sometimes finding a way to move forward when things don’t work out the way you expected.

We all have stories about doing something, in our professional or personal lives, that we were scared to do - a public speech, a decision to take your company in a new direction, or maybe traveling alone for the first time.

When we act courageously, we remember it. It changes us and then becomes part of who we are. It requires: taking risk and placing ourselves outside our comfort zone.

Acting courageously develops confidence and self esteem. If we sit it out, we miss out - on one of the most empowering experiences of all. It’s how we learn and grow.

We are surrounded with opportunities. But often the fear of the unknown keeps us from reaching out. Decision making can be risky, for a couple reasons: often we’re forced to make decisions without having all the information. As leaders, we’re expected to make unpopular decisions where we know going in that we won’t have consensus. The unknown creates fear. But we can’t let fear keep us from making a decision.

I want to share one of my own stories where things didn’t work out the way I intended, but I couldn’t pick just one; there have been many. Like:

  • running for an election that I lost
  • speaking in front of 1200 people and falling on the stage
  • investing my organization’s time and resources in pursuing a merger that I wasn’t able to close 

So what do we do when things don’t work out?

We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back in the race! It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to not be perfect. But it’s NOT OK to let fear stifle our growth!

I would like to leave you with a personal observation: When you look back -

You won’t regret the things you tried that didn’t work out, but you will probably regret the things that you NEVER tried.

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Deb Stock recently retired as Chief Executive Officer of the York YWCA, and now serves as Executive Director for Turning Point Women's Counseling and Advocacy Center. She has served on national, regional, and local boards, including serving as Board Chair of YWCA USA from 2009-2012. She has also served on the boards of York Hospital, Better York, Rotary Club Of York, United Way Of York County, Family & Child Partners, Family Service Partners, New Hope Academy Charter School, on the executive committee of YWCA’s World Service Council and Global Relations Committee, and is a Trustee of 501c Agency Trust in San Jose, CA.

In 2008, York Newspaper Company named Deb as one of the top 25 most influential people in York County. In February 2010, she was awarded the Central Penn Business Journal's Nonprofit Innovation Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Deb is currently a member of Leadership York's Board of Directors. She received the ATHENA International Leadership award in 2011.

The ATHENA Leadership Award® was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment - qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model®. The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to a woman - or man - who is honored for professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. Nominations for the York County Economic Alliance ATHENA Award are being accepted until November 18, 2016.