“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

I find this eloquent quote from Mary Anne Radmacher really poignant.  Quiet is strong. It usually means it is holding up someone who is under the huge weight of emotional pressure. It always reminds me of what you are told on a First-Aid course; priority 1 are those that are quiet, not those who are emitting some form of noise.

The quote jogged my memory of when I once worked on a construction project with a truly lovely man named Simeon. He had been very, very heavy and way over weight. One day my boss and I noticed Simeon had lost a tremendous amount of weight; he was actually becoming ‘Thin’.

We asked Simeon if all was well; was he OK?  He replied that a few months earlier his daughter had been involved in a near fatal car crash.  She had received multiple injuries, leaving her terribly disfigured.

Simeon had remained quiet and had never said a solitary word about this horrific, life shattering accident.  However, the toll it was taking upon him mentally, physically and spiritually was now obvious.

We took Simeon into the project office and over a coffee my boss and I talked with this highly skilled carpenter for about an hour. We assured him we were there for him and his family; he only had to ask.

Some six months later as the project was drawing to a close, as is the way with the construction industry, we all went our separate ways. But, on the day Simeon was leaving, he came into the project office to thank my Boss and me for our small act of kindness a few months before. It is fair to say, “It was emotional” and we all shed a few tears.

Yet Simeon had never said another word to my Boss and me about his grief, from the moment he had shared it with us.  It had been enough for Simeon just to know we cared not only about the quality of his work, his productivity and his attitude to safety; but way more importantly we truly cared about his health and well-being.

Reflecting upon that experience now, my Boss and I had engaged with Simeon naturally and had not acted through the requirements of a KPI backed Behavioural Safety initiative, or something similar.

What my Boss and I had enacted would now be termed Authentic Leadership, i.e. emphasis on an honest relationship which valued Simeon’s input and built on an ethical foundation. My Boss and I had been positive with truthful self-concepts and promoted openness.

I have to say that back-then, we were just doing what came naturally.  As Simeon put it at the time, “you my friends, have got soul.”

Apparently Simeon had been able to remain strong, resolute and determined through his ‘Bosses’ real and heartfelt concern for him as an individual. We had noticed a difference in his physical condition and demonstrated genuine desire to help him and his family.  Consequently he had been able to remain as he had wished about his personal dilemma; quiet.

Simeon really was extraordinarily courageous. He must have said to himself at the end of each and every day, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Elvin K. Box 

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