Serving with Honor – Chapter 4: Confront your Doubts and Fears

Chapter 4 in Col Ellis’s book Leading with Honor is titled “Confront Your Doubts and Fears”. Col Ellis introduced his lesson with stories from his experiences as a prisoner of war. I believe he could write an entire book filled with heroic actions from those who were imprisoned with him during the Vietnam War. There are a couple common themes he touched upon in this chapter. Those who made purposeful decisions to improve yourself, and using a strong set of core values to help you face your fears and doubts.

Every day we make decisions on how to react to different situations. The message Col Ellis wants us to take away from this chapter is to face those situations using strong core values to help us make good decisions. The Air Force defines our code of conduct through our core values, Integrity, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do. Living these values will help us face any situation both on and off duty to make the right decisions. At work it is often easier to avoid difficult situations such as providing constructive feedback than to hold people accountable. Remember that ignoring a difficult situation or not confronting it is a decision. Avoiding difficult decisions can be infectious and will lead the organization in a downward spiral. Make the purposeful decision to face your fears courageously using the core values and act, you will be better for – the Wing will be better for it.

There are multiple definitions of courage; Col Ellis defines it as “doing what is right or called for in the situation, even when it does not feel safe or natural”. He challenges us to build our strength so we have the courage to face difficult situations. There are different areas of courage to look at such as relational courage needed to hold people accountable or emotional courage to give and receive constructive feedback. Other areas include physical courage, financial, reputational, and political. The challenge is to actively develop the courage needed to be stronger leaders. Make the purposeful decision to improve on the areas you need to build more courage in.

Chapter four is about facing your doubts and fears. The best way to find the courage needed is through continuous improvement within yourself. Pick an area in your life that you can improve upon, seek knowledge to quell the doubts and build the courage needed to face your most difficult situations.

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