As a coach, I work with many clients who exhibit courage on a daily basis. I’m inspired by them and their willingness to push themselves, to face challenges and ultimately succeed in their goals. As I reflect on my personal experience, my clients and influential individuals around the world who have exhibited tremendous courage, I can distill it down to two habits to build courage:
As you’re reading this, ask yourself, when was the last time I said yes to something that I normally wouldn’t say yes to? If you take a second to recall, it was too long ago. What stops you from saying yes? It might be nerves, it might be fear of the unknown and as you’re thinking about saying yes, you get anxiety and think, how much easier would it be for me to stay in my comfort zone? Often times, we stay in our comfort zone because we have control over what will happen. We know how it’ll play it and we are mentally prepared for the outcomes. When we take a step outside of our comfort zone, a lot of ‘what if’ questions arise. We don’t know if we’ll be able to manage every situation that might occur and that is anxiety provoking. We don’t know if we’ll be able to control the outcome, let alone predict what’ll happen. That is scary.
And on the flipside, think about the adventures, the lessons, the skills, the people, and the stories that’ll arise from doing something different. From forcing ourselves to get outside of our comfort zone and trying something new, you may find that all of the assumptions that you originally had about not doing or doing something out of fear really were assumptions. Without trying and testing it out yourself, you’ll never know. You will stay in the status quo.
My challenge to you is to try 1 new thing that you normally wouldn’t say yes to one time a week. Just once a week and keep a journal of what you’re feeling when you’re about to say yes. Every cell in your body will scream and tell you to say no. Quiet down that voice and respond to it, “What will be the worst that happens?” If it’s not a life or death situation or losing something you can’t afford to lose, then the answer should be yes. Then embrace the journey. Be mentally prepared and know it might be hard at times, it’ll be uncomfortable, it’ll be scary. But you’ll be fine. You’ll survive and you’ll learn a lot.
Take note of what you’re feeling through the process and write down what you’re enjoying, what you’re grateful for and most importantly, what you’re learning. Follow this routine for one month and be sure to visit your reflection and notice how over time, you get less anxious about saying yes and begin to embrace the discomfort. When you’re ready, challenge yourself and say yes two times a week, then three times a week and so on. You’ll be a ‘yes’ saying machine in no time!
I should go to this networking event, I should read a book, I should listen to this podcast, I should watch Game of Thrones because everyone talks about it (but seriously, it’s a great show). Ask yourself, of all of the shoulds on your list, how many are worthwhile? And why do you force yourself to take part of these shoulds? It’s usually because society, our friends, coworkers and family influence what we should and should not do. We don’t want to rock the boat and so we go with the flow. It’s good to be agreeable and to want to be liked. But there’s also a limit to it. What do you most remember of the people who have had a big impact on you – whether they are family members, peers, celebrities or influencers?
There is usually one or two characteristics that made them stand out from the crowd and that attracted you to them. These individuals didn’t only focus on what they should be doing, rather, they pursued what they wanted to do. They focused on themselves and did more of what made them stand out. It can be frightening to do more of what we want because we may think what will other people think? Or we question if it’s even worth it. Usually the things we want to do is what makes us the most unique; it’s what makes us stand out. Standing out from the crowd can be scary and it takes courage to do that.
My challenge to you is to pick one you that you want, even if it’s weird or out there or people don’t understand it. It doesn’t matter. Stand in your uniqueness, in your authenticity and your power. Take five minutes to do something you want. This will require you to be selfish and put yourself first. Do this every day. Practice putting yourself first and doing more of what you want because that will help you be more aware of who you are, what you’re passionate about and ultimately, you’ll start to chart your own path. There’s no sense in doing things that society or your peers want you to do. That’s easy and doesn’t get you anywhere.
Take a deep breath and spend time doing what you want to do.
Do it without regret and do it with pride.
Just make sure you do you.