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You would think that I’m always the one sharing insights and getting people to stretch their capacity.  That may be true most days, but I also find that sometimes I am the student. And as Simon Sinek, says, “Leadership is an education. And the best leaders think of themselves as the students, not the teachers.” So I wanted to share something that I learned recently.

At the beginning of the year, one of my executive coaching clients started using “Quarterly Themes”.  She owns her own businesses – a solopreneur – so these themes help her hold herself accountable, giving her a framework for assessing decisions, goals, and actions. Recently in a 1:1 coaching session, she was talking about her progress with her third quarter theme and how she identified her fourth quarter theme.  As she spoke, I found myself looking back over the last 9 months, thinking about what was dominating my time, thoughts, and energy. What would my quarterly themes be in retrospect?

What quarterly themes would frame your 2020 so far?

My first quarter theme was definitely “Dissertation”.  Every minute of the first quarter, up until I defended my thesis, was full of research, writing, reviewing data, and practicing my defense. March 2, 2020, I defended my thesis and then just 10 days later, the world shut down. I felt like I didn’t even get a chance to exhale and enjoy the achievement.

My second quarter would have been either  “Tiger King Binge & Ice Cream” or “Zooming & Suitcase Living”. The latter option may have been the cause of the first. Second quarter was full of unknowns and uncertainty for all.

My third quarter would have been “We’re Moving…In a Pandemic…Are We Crazy?!?”

So as September winds down, and the fourth quarter is fast approaching, I’ve got the chance to really define my intentions for the next 3 months in one word.

What would you choose to finish out the year?

Thinking proactively about a theme for Q4, I’ve chosen “Courage.” But what does courage actually mean?  When in doubt, Google. Here are a few courage quotes that captured my attention.

Dale Carnegie… “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”


Erma Bombeck: “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”


Jim Hightower: “The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”


John Wooden: “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”


Reading these quotes on courage, the one that really stuck out to me was Jim Hightower’s, “The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”


It made me laugh at first, but then it made me think of how often I see people – including myself – “go with the flow” rather than having the courage to speak up or make the necessary adjustments to reach for what we want.


What acts of courage have you witnessed in others?


How have you summoned courage over the last 9 months?


Where do you need to apply courage in your life today? Through the end of the year?


I won’t master courage in quarter four, but I know having this theme and these thoughts around courage, at the forefront of my mind, will start moving me in the right direction.  That’s what leadership is all about, right? Never stop striving to be a little bit better – every day. THAT takes courage.


Not sure what’s next for you? Reach out if you ever need a boost of courage and we will figure it out together.

Cheyenne Bennett profile picture
Cheyenne Bennett

Cheyenne is a Senior Family Business Advisor here at Compass Point with areas of expertise in Leadership & Talent Development. Her leadership training and research focuses on self-awareness, communication and healthy conflict to help cultivate high-performance teams for family business owners and their leaders.

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