Want to Grow Your Courage? First, Be Scared.
Courage, confidence, and fearlessness. These three buzz words get bandied about almost interchangeably. Yet, they each require a different mindset and skillset. To be successful and live life to its fullest, you need to practice all three. But which one matters most?
Confidence means to trust in the reliability of someone or something. Self-confidence stems from self-trust: you trust your innate abilities, your experience, your capacity to learn and grow, etc. Confidence comes from experience. You have experience with your own self. Yet if you focus on your failures and weaknesses, you can forget your strengths and successes and erode your self-confidence.
Recently, I coached a client who wants to take his skills into a new industry. “I feel so intimidated in the interviews,” he said, “because I’m not as well versed in this field as the one I’m coming from.”
“Isn’t that the point?” I countered. “You’ll be doing a similar job, but you are ready to branch out into a new arena. Have confidence in your skills and experience even though the environment might be different.”
“You’re right,” he said. “I can learn the industry. I’m excited to learn the industry. And I do have confidence in my skill set. I am good at what I do.”
If you want to feel and present yourself as confident and self-assured, remind yourself of your strengths and successes.
Fearlessness means lacking fear. (No kidding, right?) We all experience fear—it’s normal. Yet don’t fall into the trap of letting fear rule your emotions, your decisions, or your life. Since most of the things you stress, worry, and fret about either never happen or aren’t actually that scary when you really think about it, cultivating fearlessness comes down to choosing your thoughts.
Courage, however, is a little different. There is no courage without fear, since courage is the mental strength to withstand fear. You’re scared, yet still take action. With courage, you’re willing to take risks for the things and people you value. With courage, you’re able to stand up to bullies and tyrants. With courage, you can head into unchartered territory; you can explore, discover, and expand your sense of the world and your own self. There is SO much good on the other side of fear.
But it all starts with being willing to be afraid.
We need brave people in the world today. But if you want to be one of those brave people, get ready for some discomfort—knees knocking, stomach somersaulting, I wish I’d worn a diaper today discomfort. Have you felt that way recently? If not, your life isn’t big enough. You’re too comfortable.
We especially need brave leaders—people who are willing to be seen, make changes, and inspire others even in the face of hostility. We need leaders who are willing to be a little bit afraid, and step forward anyway.
What makes you tremble? What makes you want to hide in the bathroom? What makes you catch your breath? Is it something you know would be good in the long run? Then do it.
Getting uncomfortable is the first step toward a wonderful life.