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What Does Courage Mean to You?

Jun 20, 2023

I recently posed this question to group of business leaders, asking for a specific example of a time they demonstrated courage in the face of fear or uncertainty.

Descriptions included:

  • Strength within to take action when facing a challenge.
  • Always making the hard choices
  • Stepping outside my comfort zone
  • Advocating for myself

And examples included:

  • Giving blood the first time after a bad experience
  • Raising kids
  • Starting over in a whole new location where I didn’t know anyone
  • Being OK with “not knowing”
  • Creating video promotions or training

We all have our own definition and our own experiences with facing fear, doubt, and uncertainty and deciding to move forward despite that.

We discovered that admitting your fears – or writing them down – not only diminished their impact, but also helps you realize that you are not alone.  There are others with similar or different experiences, struggling, then making the choice to take action anyway.

In further discussion, we explored the instances where we knew were backing down to people or situations and needed to summon more courage. Again, describing the circumstances helped to make it less daunting. The group was able to encourage each other to step up and face the challenge head on.

Sometimes, when hesitating from worry or fear, I find it helpful to identify which one of three common pains I am avoiding:

  •  Fear of loss, or the idea that if I proceed in a new direction, I am giving up something in return that I will miss. An example is moving to a new location, and losing what I already know, including certain relationships and familiar routines.
  • Fear of the process, the anxiety about having to learn something entirely new and that it will be difficult to get to the other side of not knowing. An example is learning a new technology. It can be frustrating, even though it will make my life easier in the long run.
  • Outcome fear. The concern that what’s on the other side won’t be better after all, the proverbial greener grass. An example is moving to a new job – what if it’s not as good as the job I have?

Most every significant changed I’ve feared has fallen into one –or more--of these categories and having recognized it makes it that much easier to overcome.

These days, courage is a requirement for business leaders. Speaking up for yourself, or for others, when there is inequity or a failure, is not easy.  It is one of the things that distinguishes good leaders from great ones. Everyone needs an advocate, a cheerleader, a support system.

How about you?  How do you define courage?  Who is your role model for courage and for whom are you a role model?  Where are you stepping up and where are you backing down?  If you need or want some help facing life with more courage and confidence, let’s talk.

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