Skip to main content


Innovators Talk: Unlocking Courage with Ryan Berman

Resilience expert Ryan Berman joins us to discuss the ins and outs of courage. He shares key frameworks that help learners bring courage to their daily lives. 

3 min read

Most in higher education would say that their institution is in “Preservation Mode,” especially given all the events of 2020. But those same events have made courage that much more important to the survival of institutions. Yes, change is hard, but the cost of not changing will be very high. Resilience expert Ryan Berman joins us to discuss the in’s and out’s of courage. Rewiring ourselves and our teams to act courageously will not only be key to an institution’s survival but also serve as a competitive advantage for that team and that institution. It starts with an understanding of courage as knowledge + faith + action. If we can find the right balance of those levers while creating believers in the people around us, we can enact tremendous student-centric change that delivers and differentiates.

Key Takeaways:

  • Who is Your #1 Competition?: In reality, it’s time. So many projects feel so big that you could compare it to eating an elephant. Many would say you should eat that elephant one bite at a time. “Could you imagine going to your boss and saying ‘We’re eating that elephant one bite at a time…come back to us in 2028 and we should have [it] gobbled up by then,’” Ryan asked. We sometimes rely on the excuse of time to not tackle our real #1 competition…ourselves. Check out the “3 Big Bold Takeaways” chapter to see the real answer to the elephant question.

  • Learning Courage: Have you ever thought about why the word “nervous” is in the name of the Central Nervous System? During his Talk, Ryan shared his research into how we are literally wired to fear change. “When you break it down…central, at the core of you…system, you’re a computer…and right there in the middle is nervous.” If we can practice courage, we have the opportunity to rewire our systems and create a Central Courage System that becomes our competitive advantage.

  • Finding the Right Balance: Ryan suggests that there are three different levers that makeup courage: Knowledge, Faith, and Action. Each one of these levers; however, won’t come in equal measure — no matter how much we want them too. In higher education, we’re often hanging on and waiting for more knowledge before proceeding. Ryan challenged us to inject more faith into our decision making. Otherwise, we’re just doing what we’ve always done and playing it safe. See the “Defining Courage” chapter for more!

  • Creating Believers: Citing Phil Knight of Nike’s famous quote “Belief is Irresistible,” Ryan discussed just how powerful belief is when it comes to leadership. “There are so many challenges that you already have in higher ed,” Ryan explained, “you need people to believe! They need to be on the bus. They have to be on board if you’re going to accomplish what you want to accomplish.” See Ryan’s Big Bold Takeaway on Faith to see how you can create believers.