Courage is a highly admired trait that many people wish they had more of. After all, if you look at some of the most revered and successful individuals in any field, courage is often near the top of the list as to why they are admired. But people often make the mistake of assuming that those who have courage lack fear. This is not true. Nelson Mandela perhaps said it best when he said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Those with courage will stand up against things that threaten them or for things they are passionate about, even if it is a risk to do so. So, how can you become more courageous?
Be open about your fears
As we have established, a courageous person is not someone without fear, but rather someone who acts in spite of those fears. If you want to become more courageous, you first have to be honest with yourself about your fears. If you do not do this, there will always be a reason to not act. It is human nature to hide behind a comforting lie rather than accept an uncomfortable truth. For example, maybe you would like to start your own business and escape the 9-5 rat race. However, you are constantly making excuses. Maybe you tell yourself it is not the right time. Perhaps you are telling yourself you are too busy to work on the business plan right now. The truth is that you are scared you are going to fail and so hide behind it “not being the right time”. But when you are open with yourself and accept you are afraid you will fail; you can then begin to work out a way to overcome the situation.
Quantify the risk
If we carry on our example above, lets assume that the reason you are scared about starting your own business is because you are worried you may run out of money. This then stops becoming a fear and mental block for you to overcome, but instead something that you can begin to plan for. The plan should always start with a risk assessment. For example, if you are worried about not having the funds to pursue your dream, you can then calculate how much money you would need and by when and understand whether or not it is an acceptable risk to start now, or if you would require a few more months or years before you hit a financial figure to mitigate that risk. Likewise, if your fear is of spiders, walking in to a mass of poisonous spiders is probably a bad idea, but going to the zoo and petting one of their defanged spiders that can’t hurt you would help mitigate the risk of pursuing your objective.
Look for support
Its also very important to surround yourself with those who are a positive influence on you. If you have a loved one consistently telling you that your business is going to fail, odds are that it is going to fail as you are not going to have the courage to go all in. Likewise, if you are going to touch that spider, going with someone who is equally terrified and freaks out at the site of it is not going to have a calming effect on you and help you to see it through. But if you have a loved one who is cheering you on and there to provide support, it’s a lot easier to act.
Accept the consequences in advance
Finally, the best way to see a courageous decision through is to accept the consequences in advance. If you have understood what could happen, quantified the risk, put together a plan and have support, the final step is to take the plunge and do it. However, many folks get to this point and can still be reluctant to see it through. The reason for this, is that they have not yet made peace with the decision. Even if you have the best business plan in the world, the business may still fail. The spider may still bite you. You could forget your lines in the middle of a speech. Your boss could fire you if you question their strategy. If you accept that it could happen in advance, it’s easier to deal with if it does happen. So, make sure you work out the potential downside, and if it’s a price you are willing to pay, then go ahead. In the grand scheme of things, looking foolish by messing up a speech, or losing some of your savings because a business failed is OK. It is also OK if you decided something is not worth the consequence, like say your parachute not opening when you go skydiving.
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