I never saw myself as a courageous person, but as I began writing this blog, I started reflecting on some of the things I’ve done over the course of the last few years and realized that I AM courageous. Funny enough, I seem to be more courageous in doing big things than little things. Some of the big things include getting my coaching certification, moving to China, becoming a Stepmom to my man’s 15 yr old daughter and pre-retiring from my corporate job after 15 years to pursue my passion in coaching. Yet, getting in front of the camera to record a video, still leaves me feeling petrified. What’s up with that….? It’s one of the courage muscles I continue to work on.
The thing is, our brain is programmed to focus on the negative, paying attention to what could go wrong and what dangers lurk around the corner. This comes from years of evolution. When we were hunters and gatherers, eons of years ago, lack of awareness of our surroundings could lead to death! Though life is very different today (we don’t have to worry about that T-rex around the corner), our brain has been programmed and continues to operate very much in the same way; it is always scanning for danger in order to protect us. Today, we also have something else that is always working to protect us: our EGO. And the ego is even more dangerous than the T-Rex.
The good news is that courage is a habit that can be developed through consistent work and, most importantly, action. Because the interesting thing is this; the only way to get past the fear to grab the brass ring is to do the very thing that scares you. So how do I get over my fear of the camera? Get in front of it! It’s about taking ownership of our life and of who we are and growing into the humans we want to be, rather than who we are today.
Fear keeps us playing small and when we play small, we have a small life. But when we become more courageous, that’s when we start living that big, joyful life we all deserve!
What Courage Looks Like
So, I thought I would begin by defining what courage is. First and foremost, it is one of the 6 High Performance Habits as defined by the High Performance Institute. This habit, along with Clarity, Productivity, Influence, Energy and Necessity have been scientifically proven to be highly predictive of people’s Happiness, Confidence, Income and Life Satisfaction, among others. How awesome is that?!? I think we all can use more of the above, no?
Second, courage doesn’t necessarily mean running into burning buildings, or putting yourself in dangerous situations, like our firemen/women and police officers do. I have the utmost respect for what they do and I’m grateful for their courage. For most of us, it’s about moving forward despite the fear in doing the small things. So let’s explore the different times you might need to tap into your courage.
Have you ever been in a situation where you spoke up in a meeting and either got shut down by your boss or a colleague because your point of view didn’t align with theirs? OR you said something and were judged for speaking out? Yeah… Been there too. It’s uncomfortable and it makes us feel bad. But there have also been times when speaking up opened up a new way of thinking and got us in a very different and better direction. So, speak up anyways. Have the courage to make your voice heard even if it may not be aligned with the other voices
Committing to something
You may be hesitating because you fear it will make you feel trapped, or worse, that you will be making the wrong decision. When we commit to something (or someone), we do it with all of the information available at the time. Making this decision doesn’t mean it is final. You can always make another decision, if you realize that it is not what you expected or what you signed up for. So don’t be afraid! Make the commitment despite the uncertainty
Asking for help
Some people have a hard time asking for help. That is especially so with people who harbor a fixed mindset. For them, asking for help is admitting defeat, admitting they are not “whatever” enough to do it on their own with the knowledge that they have. They may not want to look “stupid” or vulnerable. But it is easier to ask for help than it is to fail. Asking for help means “I know my capabilities and I need to learn more before I can do this on my own”. There’s no shame in that!
Doing something you’ve never done before
You may have to learn something new and this might take you out of your comfort zone, or you may fear the impact that a decision could have on your family, team or organizations, esp. if things go sideways. Again, you might fail. But our greatest learning comes from making mistakes and from failing. I’ve often heard people say you have to “fail forward”. Although you may feel failing is setting you back, it can very well be setting you up for a leap forward, so try doing “the thing”!
We all take risks. Every day. Some can be innocuous, like crossing the street — you may not see a car coming. Others are bigger.
There are two things I did which seemed like big risks, but were in fact, relatively low risk: Jumping out of an airplane and walking on fire.
In those cases, the risk seemed bigger, but when I thought about it, I knew the people who organized it would not risk anything bad happening to me.
In the end, doing something big helped me see that I could tackle the little things just as well