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WATCH The Courage Scale Video

A powerful tool for managing your energy and influence.





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The Story

David Hawkins, M.D., was a world famous medical doctor, psychologist and psychiatrist. He had over 50 consultation rooms in New York City and people would come from all over the world to see him. Later on in his career, he left that practice to study how our energy and emotional state would affect those around us. He developed a compelling scale of human consciousness (or vitality) where he took those emotions (or states of being) and assigned a log rhythmic number to them depicting how much energy or vitality was given off when we were in that state of being. At the bottom you will see Death is valued at zero, Courage is at 200, Love at 500 and so on.

It is important to note that the scale is divided into two parts above and below the Courage Line of 200. What lies above the Courage Line is what we call the “Giving” or Generous side of life. What lies below is the “taking,” or self-centered side of life. His research found that  85% of people live below the line of 200. In other words, 85% of people live on the taking/draining side of life and may pull the energy of others down with them. That leaves only 15% of people to live above the line where they give energy vs. drain it.

The terms Above the Line and Below the Line are a quick and easy way to communicate where your energy is at with a group or clients you work with. Many people use this tool to help their teams, families, and clients easy communicate their current emotional state and often times tends to become part of the organization’s vocabulary.


Where ever you find yourself on this scale...IS A CHOICE! A lot of people don't like hearing that but research shows that after three seconds of an emotional response, we have a choice on how we feel. Just by looking at the scale, you can choose to move up Above the Line. Try it and see for yourself.

Powerful Questions to ask yourself.

  • Where do I generally spend me time...above or below the line?

  • What are the best ways that I can move my energy back above the line?

  • Or do we drain energy from below the line?

  • Do you know people who live below the line?

  • If so, how long does it take for you to feel drained by them?

  • Have you worked in a group that lived (or lives) below the line? How does it affect you?

  • Do you look forward to being with them or attending their meetings?

  • Do people look forward to your meetings?

  • Does lasting success and happiness require us to rise higher on the Courage Scale?

  • Do leaders inspire more trust when they stay above the Courage Line?

  • What kind of leader do you want to be?

We can choose to be above the Courage Line because Consciousness and personal vitality are a choice.

My experience is that people prefer leaders who live above the Courage line and are more likely to follow them. Working alongside selfish leader and/or colleagues is unpleasant, draining and disempowering.

I have also found that people and groups who live below the line can be very high maintenance. They engage in expensive, costly behavior that sabotages and slows progress.

Ten critical skills to master as a leader:

  1. Recognize when you are operating below the line
  2. Do what is necessary to move yourself back above the line.
    • This is important because your mood is contagious and therefore determines the energy of the organization and impacts their success. (Harvard Press)
  3. Learn how to invite others to rise back up above the line.  You can't demand it since it is their personal choice.
  4. Develop and master your emotional intelligence (EQ) skills.
  5. Pay special attention to how you engage people in conversations.
  6. Ask questions that empower and inspire.
    • Do you ask questions that trigger below the line responses? Or do you ask non-threatening open-ended questions, such as “How do you feel about… ?” and “What thoughts would you share with … ?”
  7. Learn what triggers your organization and peers to fall below the line so you can preempt it.
  8. Identify people in your organization that are near the courage line, whether above or below and spend time and energy with them.
  9. Develop a healthy respect and interest in those who are angry. They may be your next missionaries for change. It is easier to encourage those who are angry to engage than those who are apathetic people.
  10. Let those far above the Courage line infect you with positivity and energy. They often have great influence and generous hearts that invite respect. Part of their gift of generosity can include the ability to candidly share difficult truths to give you a better sense of the pulse of your group.


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