Leadership | Courage and Conviction

Courage (n) – mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Conviction (n) – a strong persuasion or belief.

This week, as we recognize the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of one of the greatest leadership attributes of all – the courage of one’s convictions. Whether you are leading a product development effort, a team of people, or pursuing a personal dream, the courage of your convictions is required to accomplish greatness.

Simply put, the courage of your convictions is doing and/or saying what you know is right, no matter how stiff the opposition. This seems straight forward, but it is a trait rarely found – especially in the face of the courage-killing insecurities that so many of us face on a daily basis.

Dr. King provides one of the best examples of courageous leadership and, specifically, the courage of one’s convictions. MLK led a Civil Rights movement (with the help of many others, of course) that resulted in a forever-changed world, and certainly a forever-changed people. He did this in the face of opposition far stiffer than you or I are likely to ever face – opposition that ultimately claimed his life.

So I ask you – what do you believe in so passionately that you would be willing to sacrifice for it? Let’s face it; in most cases the only thing we have to lose is a bit of “face.” What business idea or vision do you champion with the courage of your convictions, no matter how many people stand in opposition to you? Are you courageous enough to actually challenge the masses, rather than safely taking sides with them?

Having a dream is a great start, but actually doing something about it matters most. Dr. King had dreams of freedom and equality, but it was his courage and conviction to realize his dreams that changed the world.

I have a dream of revolutionizing education by exposing textbooks for what they are – obsolete – and replacing them with the most advanced learning technology in the world. I champion this vision publicly at every opportunity, even though I risk alienating large groups of people every time I do. I pursue this dream passionately, because the students of the world deserve it.

What is your dream? More importantly, are you pursuing it with courage and conviction?

Lead. Courageously.

Doug's Signature


  • edrouse

    I believe that access to education is a cornerstone of the true justice and education that MLK dreamed would be reality for all citizens.  One of my personal passions is to inspire others to be their ultimate best and to help them understand that not only is it OK to Dream, but in choosing to dream we are actually creating future reality.  Just as Dr.King dreamed of the cahnge that we now live!  One thing that I love about the products that we are developing is that they continue to help level the playing field by meeting students where they are and helping to take them where they need to be in order to live their dreams! 

    •  Wow. Poignant stuff, Erica. You are correct – every one of us has the ability to create a future by first dreaming about it, and then actively pursuing making it reality. We are meeting students where they are, and we are further leveling the playing field through new and innovative learning technologies. That feels very, very good. Thanks for sharing.

  • kathleenklehr

    Thanks for highlighting MLK, Doug. I was fortunate enough last summer to be able to stand on the step of the Lincoln Memorial  where he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech . It was a very moving experience, and caused me to really embrace the mindset of “if not now, when?”

    •  Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had to be a deep, moving experience. Thanks for sharing with us.


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