Habits of Courage

My client Joanne is in the midst of a difficult professional decision.

The option she knows is best for both her career and her happiness also happens to be the one that scares the *^&# out of her.

I have no doubt she has the courage to walk through her fear.

Joanne, however, doesn’t have quite the same level of confidence in her “courage capacity” as I do. So we’ve been working on building a courage habit – which, like any habit, comes from practice.

When I first suggested she start with small acts of courage, her response was, “You mean I should practice so I can really be courageous?”

Um, not exactly :-).

Doing anything that feels scary, uncomfortable, difficult, daunting, or intimidating is courageous. Doing those things regularly is practicing courage.

There’s not one iota of difference between practicing courage and being courageous.

Why practice matters.

This past year I’ve had clients who have courageously made big life changes – the kind of changes that call upon deep wells of courage and the faith that you’ll be fine no matter what. These are the changes that come from choosing to believe that you deserve to be happy, you don’t have to settle for less than your full potential, and that it’s not just okay to be who you are, it’s why you’re on this planet.

We’re talking bold, courageous choices.

But these choices didn’t happen overnight. They grew out of many small acts of bravery: day-to-day choices to get out of comfort zones, commitments to building resilience and grit and to practice courage.

It’s in these small acts of courage that you build your capacity to be the person you’re meant to be and to make the choices that lead to success and happiness.

The good news is that there are infinite opportunities to be courageous. And yes, that really is a good thing!

Here’s a tiny sampling of what “practicing courage” can look like.

  • Offering up a different opinion or perspective despite worrying that you’ll be judged or dismissed.
  • Asking for and accepting help when the very thought makes you feel vulnerable and you can barely refrain from saying, “No thanks, I’m fine.”
  • Letting your colleagues, boss, and / or clients catch a tiny glimpse of the part of you that you fear they’ll find flakey, intense, weird, silly, nerdy, airy-fairy, or whatever it is you keep hidden.
  • Taking care of yourself even though something else won’t get done and you struggle to justify why you’re more important.
  • Saying no when no is hard and yes when yes is hard.
  • Getting on your yoga mat, sitting down to meditate, and finding stillness knowing you’ll come face-to-face with yourself.
  • Telling yourself the truth about how you’re getting in your own way – and then taking itsy-bitsy baby steps to get out of the way.
  • Planting your butt in the chair to write every day when you’re in the midst of your worst case of writer’s block and your three-year-old self is screaming, “I DON’T want to do it.” (Okay, so maybe this is how I’ve been practicing courage recently 🙂 ).
  • Taking a first step towards something – anything – that feels scary, uncomfortable, difficult, daunting, or intimidating.

I know you’ve practiced courage, because there’s not a chance you’ve never done anything outside of your comfort zone!

Keep practicing.

Because you deserve success AND happiness. And it takes a habit of consistent courage to have both.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”


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