Leaders Inspire Courage

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

Reflecting on Christmas movies and pulling lessons from what’s transpired over the past few weeks and few months, I was struck by the number of times I heard the term “believe.”  In the Miracle on 34th Street, Suzie repeats over and over, “It’s silly but I believe.”  Believing in something doesn’t make it so, or does it?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Belief inspires courage.  Believe in someone and put courage in them.  Belief that someone will succeed or fail is a key determinant in their success or failure.  We hear of stories of people who overcame the odds.  We focus on these stories for two reasons:

  1. We feel like we’re fighting the odds.  It seems like someone else is always the one to accomplish the great task.  We tend to place ourselves in the less-than-special category.  Heck, we know us.  We know the laziness and selfishness we’re capable of.  Deep down inside, many of us don’t truly believe in ourselves much less have people in our lives who believe we are truly great.  Be honest.
  2. There are fewer of these types of stories.  It seems like whenever we get a story about believing in someone it ends up being a Santa Claus story.  The result is almost unbelievable to the point of reminding us that these types of miracles never really happen, at least not to us.

When we look for people to believe in us, we invert the process.  Belief is a gift.  When you believe in someone, you turbo-charge their vision of the future.  Vision pulls them (and us) toward great accomplishments.  Your team (or your children, or your organization) will never exceed their greatest vision of their future.  So why not help create a great vision for their future and begin to resource them to achieve it?

Nicole Nordeman co-wrote a song called Brave.

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You’re safe and sound and
Until now it’s where I’ve been
‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything
But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings.

Putting others first is love.  Believing in others is an act of love.  When a leader creates an opportunity for others to succeed and when that opportunity comes with the resources, energy and the true belief that they will, in fact, succeed, that’s a gift.  If you’ve been given that gift, thank your leaders.  Otherwise, demonstrate that you’re trustworthy enough to get it. Give your people courage, inspiration, dreams, education, resources and an active, energized belief in their abilities.  Create the environment where they can succeed.

Believing in others is one key of character-based leadership.

How about sharing a story about someone who believed in you?  Or talk about someone other than yourself that you believe will accomplish great things!  Let’s start the 2011 excitement right now.

Brave by Nicole Nordeman and Jay Joyce 2005 Birdwing Music / Birdboy Songs (ASCAP), admin. by EMI CMG Publishing / Sony/ATV Songs LLC / JohnnyO Music (BMI) © 2005 Sparrow
photo by iStockPhoto © Peter Hazlett

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

William Powell  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

What an encouraging post, Mike. I have had so many people believe in me, I honestly can’t keep count. That is why I’m so blessed to be where I am today. One person I truly believe will accomplish great things is my dear friend and business partner (aka Swag Vixen) Heather Coleman.

She is such a positive force in the lives of so many people. Add this to her brilliance as a speaker and leader and there is a combination that will move mountains. Can’t wait to see what she continues to do as she grows her career and business. Love you to bits Heather!


Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for kicking things off here William. I appreciate your energy. Thanks too for recognizing Heather. She is someone who is making a difference. I smile thinking about what she will accomplish too, partly through her association with you and Ron too. I’m glad to be connected. Thanks, Mike…

HeatherEColeman  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

This is a wonderful post – an interesting perspective on what it means to infuse others with positive energy, with the gift of your trust in them – great leaders invest in the leadership of others.

This is my favorite part of your post: “So why not help create a great vision for their future and begin to resource them to achieve it?”

I am honored that my partner and friend, William Powell, wrote such wonderful comments about me – I didn’t even have to pay him this time! ;) Thank you, William – you know, it’s worth mentioning that we met because of Mike Henry and the LeadChange Group. It’s difficult to remember a time that you haven’t been a good friend, actually! You are a true #SwagJedi.

There are so many people I respect as leaders that it’s difficult to choose just one. For this post I’m going to mention @HRMargo of #HFChat and #HireFriday. The work she has done is absolutely incredible – bringing employers, recruiters, HR specialists and career coaches together with those actively seeking fulfilling employment. She is a brilliant, compassionate and wonderful person and someone I admire as a leader.

Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks Heather. You do know just about everyone. Thanks for being a part of the group and adding the comment and plug for Margo Rose. She’s another proof that belief in people creates positive results. Thanks!

Shawn Murphy  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

An important message from your post is that belief is an act of love. Love isn’t a word we comfortably use in business. It is, though, subtly transferred to those whom we believe in. Love looks different: trust, respect, gratitude. As we move into 2011, we all need to reflect on and put into motion leadership acts that inspire belief, trust, respect, gratitude, and, yes, love. We’re ready for moving further out from the shadow of the past two years.

Good post, Mike.

Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks Shawn. You’re one of the people I have confidence in to change the world. I’m excited to hear about the things you make happen in 2011.

When we get past the emotional aspects, love is simply seeking someone’s best or putting them first. We see it all the time in the acts of service and sacrifices people make. Love, not duty, will cause us to choose to serve others. Duty compels us. When we’re inspired, when the energy comes from the inside, that’s love.

Thanks for the comment.

John Ikeda  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks Mike. Great post! I got some much needed encouragement from my sister today. Amazing what a little encouragement can do. I’m glad you referred to Nicole Nordeman – I don’t think a ton of people have heard of her. She is awesome.


Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

That song of hers is a tremendous motivator for me. We have the power to put courage in others. It’s a great reminder.

Thanks for the comment.


Tara R. Alemany  |  28 Dec 2010  | 

I’m another great fan of Nicole’s. Her song, Legacy, has been a driving force in how I interact with my kids, business partners, and the people around me. It’s the yardstick I use to prioritize so much that I do.

I’ll just share the chorus here, but you can check out the full lyrics at

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Mary Jo Asmus  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

My husband believed in me when I went off on my own to start Aspire Collaborative Services. There was a fair amount of risk there – it was 9 years ago, and executive coaching was just gaining momentum. We had a daughter in HS and one in college. He owned (still does) a small business with unpredictable income. I had never been out of the corporate world – some 27 years worth. But he believed in me and believed we’d be ok. And so we are.

Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks Mary Jo. It sounds like his confidence encouraged you. Believing in someone is a special gift. Like most good gifts, both parties (and many others) are enriched. He helped us connect. Thank him for me!

mark allen roberts  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

I can’t agree more….”putting others first”

This is the Golden Rule of Sales as I discuss in my blog about sales lessons from Miracle on 34th street unfortunately far too many salespeople focus on their goals and not the customer’s problems.
Magic happens when we believe in others.
Thanks for the post

Mark Allen Roberts

Mike Henry  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Agreed. I read your post too. Magic does happen when we believe in others. There is a definite abundance created by everyone contributing rather than consuming. Thanks for the comment.

Barbara Reed  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

What an inspirational post! I especially like the quote from John Quincy Adams…
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams. The key word is “actions.” I learned about true leadership from a former boss who gave me a great opportunity, believed in me and showed me by his example how to mentor and inspire my own staff. This is a nice reminder to us all to take this slow week before the end of the year to reach out to those who have believed in us and to those we believe in. Thanks!

Mike Henry  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

You’re welcome. I agree actions are the key, but often the smallest movement starts the greatest results. It is my hope that we all take time to connect and appreciate the people who believe in us. They lift us up. Thanks for your comment.

Greg Farley  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Great Article, I have been blessed to have many mentors and people that empowered me throughout my career. I featured two of them in a post recently, Check it out if you like. Thanks for this article and reinforcing the character based leadership philosophy. I look forward to reading more.

Mike Henry  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Greg, Thanks for the great comment. We all need people to believe in us. It’s interesting how we both took up the same subject in such a short time span.

Sonia Di Maulo  |  27 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Your questions: How about sharing a story about someone who believed in you? Or talk about someone other than yourself that you believe will accomplish great things!

Mike your post has inspired me to think about you. The answer to both of these questions is: Mike Henry!

You believe in me, and I thank you. When we connect via email or phone, I always feel that you have 100% faith in me… that you believe in me and what I do. It’s been 1 year since you and I have connected and whenever we connect, great things happen. Your belief in me inspires me in a way that I cannot describe. But the actions that follow always feel completely right, from my authentic core. Let’s take our Meet Lead Change call. After that call, it felt absolutely right to start Authentic Leadership Montreal on Linkedin. It had been on my ”To Do” list and it became the right time to act. Your energy and words propelled me to action!

And if you do this for me, I am sure you do it for all that you connect with. You have a gift of believing in others and so people do great things… so keep doing what you do, my dear friend, and we will continue to follow.

Looking forward to *MORE* greatness in 2011 from you and everyone you touch.


Mike Henry  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thank you for the kind response Sonia. I appreciate you and your gift for feedback. Every single person who has connected through Lead Change has energized me and helped me do things I never considered. We share the belief that we make a difference and we’re doing it. You make the journey fun. Thank you for your friendship and your involvement.

The next year will be an exciting year of change, thanks to you and all the wonderful people I’ve connected with online. Thank you very much.

Tara R. Alemany  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Dear Sonia,

I’m so glad that you wrote this comment. Mike was the first person that came to mind for me as well. But, so often when questions are posed in this blog, he is the first person to come to mind!

I know he doesn’t want this group to be all about him, and what he’s accomplished. But I think he doesn’t give himself enough credit either for all that he’s managed to do this year. He has built a community of leaders, collaborating and interacting around a common, beloved topic; not just any kind of leadership, but leadership from a point of character, integrity and honor.

How do you start with nothing, and create a community that in a few short months ranks #13 in the Top 50 Leadership blogs of the year? His vision has served as a compass for many of us, and I’m glad to be able to call him my friend as well.

– Tara

Poul Andreassen  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

The article you have presented has riddled out intricate structure of leadership into a simple structure. I hope other also understand the effectiveness of this article as well!

Roy Saunderson  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply


Great reminder to look for and express gratitude to the people who “believe in you”.

My wife, Irene, is my #1 believer as I stare at an engraved plaque on my office wall as I write this which says “believe in miracles”.

One person that also stands out for me is my Aunt Cath, my godmother and non-blood relative, who looked after me for my first 2 years of my life right after my Mom died giving birth to me. Dad worked and often reclaimed me at the end of each day.

Aunt Cath was the most positive, smiling woman you would ever want to meet. She saw the possibilities in me and spoke words of enourgament to me daily.

As I grew up in later years her home was one I would rush to and just say hello to her before heading to my parental home.

I reflect with fond memories and thanks for her example that I must continually focus on making happen when it seemed so natural to Aunt Cath.


In memory of the late Catherine Batts.

Mike Henry  |  29 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for sharing Roy. Much appreciated.

Daniel Buhr  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Particularly with the mountain picture in the blog I think to a couple quotations from Edmund Hillary, the first to reach the summit of Mt. Everest together with Tenzing Norgay.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things — to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”

Believing in someone puts the focus on them and their abilities, and not on the challenges they face. The vision it gives them is not of a huge mountain but rather of all they bring to the mountain. It is a vision of how great they are already, and how much more they will become for having faced the mountain. As you said so wonderfully, Mike, that is indeed a great gift to give someone.
One more quote, from Neil Eskelin,

“You may say, ‘I’ve tried so many times before, but nothing seems to happen.’ That’s what the mountain climber could have said after three failed attempts to reach the top of Mount Everest. Instead, he looked up at the summit and announced, ‘You defeated me once. You defeated me twice. You defeated me three times. But mountain, I will someday conquer you, because you cannot get any bigger, and I can.’ ”

Mike Henry  |  29 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Daniel, thanks for the great quotes and the analogy. I like to focus on the energy and ability we bring to the mountain, rather than on focusing on the mountain itself. The mountain can’t get any bigger.


Tara R. Alemany  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

I have been blessed with people who have believed in me all along the way, although I may not always have been aware of them or believed they were right in their beliefs. However, in this past year, my friend, Carol Barnier, has been my greatest encourager. While we’ve been friends for years, it was taken to new depths this year as we each faced challenges in our own households.

As I started my new business at the start of the year, she placed her business squarely in my hands and let me work my way through the ins and outs of social marketing. She trusted me to figure out what worked and what didn’t work without fearing that I’d do irreparable harm to her reputation. We met together, planned together, and encouraged one another through a difficult year. She has sung my praises, to me and others, reminding me of the gifts that God has graced me with, and reminding me not to look too far forward or too far back, but to focus on the path that God has laid out before me.

She’s been my friend, my client, a fellow homeschooling parent, and my sister in Christ, and I’m truly grateful to have her in my life.

Mike Henry  |  29 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for the great comment. People who come alongside are a great help. Thanks for sharing about Carol. It encourages all of us to go be “lift” for a friend.


Join The Conversation