Ships are safe in harbour but that’s not what ships were built for- Anon
To me, courage summons up images of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz and fireman bursting into burning buildings to save someone. The word courage isn’t used very often in day to day life; it’s more associated with these brave acts of heroism. My thoughts would have gone along the lines of ‘I’ve never risked my life to save someone so therefore I’m not courageous.
Often we have a very black and white view of what it means to be courageous and by looking at it through that lens, it means that you won’t ever see yourself as being courageous. But….guess what…
Courage actually means ‘the ability to do difficult or scary things in spite of fear’. If we adopted this way of looking at courage, we would allow ourselves to acknowledge our own courageous behaviour.
I was working with a client recently who needed and wanted to really go for a new career but she was scared. She was adamant that she was neither brave nor courageous so I asked her ‘What scary or difficult things have you done in spite of your fear?’ Well, the floodgates opened and the list went on and on! Everything from a rollercoaster to ending a long relationship.
By looking at courage this way, it’s much easier to see examples of when you have been courageous and then much easier to give yourself the kudos for it!
A question I would like you to answer is: ‘What difficult or scary things have I done in spite of fear?’
Grab a pen and paper and write them down! (Seriously, STOP right now and just take a few minutes or at least think about it for a few minutes- it’s a great gift to actually give yourself the credit for it!) Discover how courageous you really are! I bet you’ll be surprised!
Courage can be viewed as a muscle; you need to use it regularly so that it is more toned and supple so I’ve put together 5 tips for building on your already amazing courage muscles!
1. Be a Beginner
So many of us have things that we want to do, new things that we want to try but we never get around to it because we’re afraid to be a beginner. We’re afraid to put ourselves in an environment where we know nothing! It takes guts to try something new so just go for it. Whether it’s a new career path, painting, singing, driving, flying, acting, pole dancing- whatever! Be a beginner!
2. Go somewhere you’ve never been before
I know that comfort and familiarity are great but the same thing all the time can get a bit boring! A few years ago, I was mortified when I rang for a take away, just gave my address and the guy at the other end of the phone recited my order exactly. Definitely time for a change! I bet you that if you’re going for a meal out, you tend to go to the same few places. I bet that there’s at least one movie that you can recite word for word. For a holiday or day out, you’ve gone back to the same place. Why? Because you’re certain that you’ll like it! Do something different next time, try something new. Be bold and brave and take a risk!
3. Say what you really think
This is a big one! How many times a day do you bite your tongue and say nothing? Whose company do you tend to be in when you hold yourself back? What would happen if you actually said what was on your mind and in your heart? I don’t just mean telling your boss that you disagree with current practices (or that he’s an idiot! The best time to do this is when you have another job secured!), I mean also telling someone that you care about how important they are to you. That often would take more courage than anything else because it can make us feel vulnerable to acknowledge how deeply we are attached to other people.
4. Speak to someone you don’t know
For many of us, there are people outside our circles who could be extremely beneficial to our dreams, progress and aspirations. If there is a particular career path you are interested in, find someone who currently works in it and speak to them. The wonderful thing about life is that there are surprises around every corner! That person in front of you in the queue could be the love of your life, that stranger sitting across from you in the train could be your next business client. Often we hold back, keep our eyes down and arms folded when we’re around people we don’t know. Next time, strike up a conversation and see what happens!
5. Stand up for someone else
If you see someone being treated unfairly or unfavourably, what do you do? Say nothing or stand up for them? When I was working as a consultant, I was always surprised at the bitchy gossip that went on in offices. The crazy thing was that most people who participated in it felt uncomfortable about it! But no one would stand up for the individual being talked about in case they were targeted instead! Can you relate? Do you really care what bitchy gossipers think about you? Next time, be courageous and stand up for someone else.