TOOL: 4 Levels of Courage

This tool uses a simple thought experiment to encourage personal actions

Wizard Oz Lion


How it Works

  • This is a thought experiment designed to give courage to a team, or audience, that may:
    • a) seems pessimistic
    • b) as individuals, feels they are too insignificant or powerless to make a difference
    • c) believe they are uncreative.
  • Start by asking them if they agree that, Unless we believe that something is possible, we will not try to achieve it, therefore it will remain impossible.
  • Explain that the change from impossibility to possibility is very easy - but that it requires courage
  • Ask them how courageous they are...
    • wait for answers...
    • outline the notion of 4 levels of courage in the following order:

1. You see a house on fire - afraid of getting burned you nevertheless run inside and rescue the children

    • ask who feels brave enough to do this...

2. You witness a brutal assault by a gang of known villains - you report them and identify them in court

    • ask who feels brave enough to do this...

3. You reduce your meat consumption somehow (e.g. by learning how to enjoy vegetarian food)

    • ask whether this is a useful experiment
    • offer them this more abstract proposition:

4. You doubt you can make a positive difference - but nevertheless spend time imagining low-carbon lifestyles

  • Point out that reform usually happens only after its becomes 'thinkable' (i.e. when we can imagine it)
  • If we do not try to imagine something unprecedented, it will may remain unthinkable
  • Once it is thinkable to many people it will have a high chance of becoming reality

The Problem That This Tool Addresses / Solves / Informs

  • When people lack intellectual and/or emotional courage they are said to be pessimistic
  • When this is the case they have a lower chance of seeing what is hidden, but possible
  • If they cannot see opportunities they will be unable to take advantage of them

The tool's provenance

  • JW on 25th February 2008, after speaking with individuals in the m21 team.