Courage is the Tool of the Fearless: How to Leverage Courage as Your Backbone

All hands on deck for this meeting, there is an issue with two of the deliverables, so the team is brainstorming solutions. As the ideas are flowing, and sticky notes are going up on the whiteboard, there is one idea that catches your attention as particularly risky.

You whisper, “That won’t work.” Then to your surprise, the executive director asks, “Why won’t it work?” Terrified, you stumble for an intelligent supporting argument but what spills out is an embarrassing mess of “Uh, um, like, you know it’s risky.” The conference room falls quiet for what seems like an eternity; then someone breaks the silence by shouting out another possible solution.

Grateful for the distraction you sink into the mesh chair and ask yourself, “Why am I not more confident at this stage of my career?”

Regrettably, you are not born with confidence. In all honesty, biologically your brain is designed to keep you safe. Author Seth Godin notes, “The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.” So when your lizard brain senses danger it does what it’s programmed to do, fight or flight.

In the case of today’s meeting, your lizard brain executed the flight algorithm.

I intimately understand your reaction at the meeting. It’s not that you couldn’t add value to the conversation. It’s just that you lacked the courage to say what you wanted to say. Why, because you didn’t want to blurt out something so stupid that your team will look at you and agree, “That is so stupid.”

Unfortunately, left unchecked the lack of confidence becomes cancer, metastasizing into all areas of your professional and personal life.

I found there is one inoculation to the lack of courage; it’s courage. The ability to understand your fear and then create an audacious plan to manage the fear. I say manage because you can’t defeat fear, you must take action to define how you and fear will co-exist.

Brendon Burchard explains, “The more experience they had in facing their fear, the less fear and stress they felt.” Burchard continues, “That’s why it’s so important for you to start living a more courageous life now. The more actions you take facing fear, expressing yourself, and helping others, the easier and less stressful these actions become.”

You can, either do nothing and be a victim of your inaction, or you can plan to live better. Burchard notes, “ People know what they were afraid of, and so they prepared themselves. They studied. They got mentors. Then they faced their fears. Only when our fears become our growth plan have we stepped onto the path of mastery.”

From my experience mastery is significantly a better growth plan.