Creative LeadershipCreativity

Do You Have “4am Courage?”

In filmmaker Ken Burns’ remarkable series on the Civil War, historian Shelby Foote described General Ulysses S. Grant as having “4am Courage.”  He was describing how cool Grant was under fire, and even if awakened at four in the morning with a battlefield emergency, he wouldn’t be startled.  He’d keep a cool head and make strong decisions.  That kind of calm comes from FOCUS.  Focus allows you to push out all the different and often conflicting opinions, voices, and hysterics that everyone around you is hearing, and concentrate on the single most important task of the moment.  In my book “Jolt!” I talk about that kind of focus and what it takes to learn it.

When sudden bad news happens, are you shocked, startled, or freaked out?  Or are you able to focus, look straight at the challenge, and make a good decision?

The truth is, “4 am courage” is something we need 24 hours of the day…


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  1. You’re a 100 percent right Phil. Distraction and emotional over-reaction is not an option once you’ve decided to overcome a challenge. Courage is a mental decision, not emotional. Love your blogs… inspiring & encouraging!

  2. Right on this one, too, Phil. We especially need to focus when we are being attacked by people for doing something we know in our gut is right!

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