By Emily Soccorsy

In a Root Session with one of our clients last week, the CEO began to complain about how difficult it is to hire good people. His complaints, though common, were frustratingly real. He wanted to hire individuals with high integrity, commitment, and work ethic but didn’t know what they truly stood for. I asked him if he clearly explained to his candidates what his company truly stood for.

At a party a week ago, a friend mentioned he loved my husband’s style, particularly his colorful striped socks. He spoke with true admiration in his voice, yet he also told us he had relented to only buying black socks instead of navy or dark gray, so he could easily match them. I pointed out the colored socks make it even easier to find a match. He looked quizzical as I saw him consider what it might mean to wear colorful socks instead of settling on black.

In a brand coaching session with a client earlier this week, she expressed frustration that she had yet to get comfortable sharing her mission and message with the people whom she was working with. She had done all the prep work, had collaborated on a Root Session with us, had been toiling away in a startup incubator and had even spent some time marinating and processing it all, and yet she wasn’t able to fully express.

I pointed out to her that she had done her homework, that she had a truly innovative product and a brilliant business mind. I told her that with everything in place, there just one thing was missing. She leaned in and asked urgently, “What?”

“Courage,” I said.

How many times in business, and in life, have you lacked that same key ingredient?

How many ships sailed right on out of your bay of opportunity because you were prepared, ready, invested, researched — but you could not screw up the courage?

The courage to tell the truth.

The courage to disagree with everyone else in the meeting.

The courage to tell your boss things were moving in the wrong direction.

The courage to introduce an off-the-wall idea that just might work.

The courage to tell an applicant, “this is what we believe around here.”

The courage to say no to that useless task when you knew it was a waste of time.

The courage to wear striped socks.

I know there have been moments like that for me. I would like to think I found courage more often than not, but there are definitely times I have failed.

As a brand coach who collaborates with every manner of client from corporate to solo practitioner, I have the honor of seeing and working with brilliant business minds in every niche of the market. Throughout, there are amazingly good-hearted people trying to build their businesses from the soul out today. There are some madly, inspiringly driven people who are pursuing the grandest of goals with gusto.

They have enormous vision and verve.

They have MBAs and connections and years of experience and amazing partners and wonderful teams.

But they may not realize their work is going to take many, many small and large humbling moments of courage.

In fact, I’d venture that the presence of courage (like the presence of emotional intelligence) is one of the most accurate indicators of leadership and business success. Even more so than a formal business plan, a projected P & L, or a website.

So while I recommend you invest in the spiritual foundations of your business (what I refer to as your brand), I also recommend you invest in the spiritual foundations of you.

In your belief in yourself.

In your ability to speak truth.

In your courage.

Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.

Let’s Talk!