What is it that allows some people to pursue a dream, or create a massive career change, or step into a huge step up role – and they do it with such conviction and passion, while others struggle so much to get out of their comfort zone, even though they say they want things to be different. Why is this? What stops us when we have a burning desire to invest in more meaningful work in a more connected way?
Most of the time what stops us is fear. Fear that it won’t work. Fear that we will fail. That we’ll get rejected. That we haven’t got what it takes.
And we get stuck when fear grows bigger than our courage – fear that I can’t vs courage that I can.
On Friday my 5-year-old son has his adenoids out. He was so excited about the prediction of ice-cream and movies for a week. Arriving at hospital he got to watch TV on his own screen – he couldn’t believe his luck. Only when he was wheeled into the operating theatre with 7 people green in green surgical suits that things changed. Excitement turned to fear. He had no idea what was going to happen next and had no reference points to help him make sense of the uncertainty. He was really brave though and now he’s recovering well.
We can’t turn fear off. We can only let courage show up
What separates people who follow change they want vs wishing, hoping and wanting things to change is courage.
You have enough courage right now
We all do. You just need to work on your courage muscles, flex them hard and build them so they’re bigger than your fear of moving towards that which calls you.
Anais Nin said “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”.
Your success, whatever that looks like for you, will be measured by the number of uncomfortable situations you experience. Think of the people in your career who you admire and respect the most and the courage they’ve had to muster. And in contrast, those people you know who complain, blame, and who are negative – who tolerate things because they haven’t had courage to make a stand or take a risk.
Deep down you do know what you want
So consider this: if you’ve been in your role for a while and want more; if there’s a role you’re thinking about applying for; if you’ve got the opportunity to sign up to a big new project yet aren’t sure about it; or if you wonder if you should leave your role. Know keep down you know the answer of what you really want. The thing that will hold you back is fear – regardless of how you justify the decision not to take the opportunity. By saying yes, and figuring out how, you’ll develop the courage to act in the face of uncertainty. By saying no, they’ll be a cost – emotionally and/or financially for example, from keeping things the same.
Success is more about courage than finding your passion
Here are some examples to start developing your courage muscles:
- Have a conversation that you’ve been putting off
- Contact someone who you’d like to build a stronger relationship with and give them a reason to say yes to a coffee with you
- Walk away from a situation that no longer serves you
- Give someone the feedback they really need to hear in a way that serves them
- Decide to take the lead on something that’s going to stretch you
- Apply for the job – your chances of getting it are probably higher than you think.
Bringing it all together
What are you going to do that to start flexing your courage muscles so that you can build the number of ways you display courage in your life and at work. By changing your thinking and patterns, you’ll be amazed at what will open up for you. I’d love to know.