Here’s a notion that’s been resonating with me lately: Courage doesn’t guarantee success but always precedes it.
In other words, I believe courage is an essential element of success.
I know this because every transformative experience in my life has required courage. When I decided to leave the corporate world for something more meaningful, when I realized I wanted to leave my nonprofit job to start my own business, and when I sought out mentors and asked them to help me make progress—this all required a bit of audacity on my part.
I see it in my clients and friends all the time, too. They’re out there negotiating salaries despite being scared of coming off as too bold or ungrateful. They’re disagreeing with dominant figures at work even when they know backlash is possible. They’re interviewing for new jobs after being turned down by others. And they’re asking their spouses to go to therapy although it makes them both uncomfortable.
Sure, outcomes can and will vary. But the overall sentiment: If we want to make a positive change, we have to dial up our moxie.
If you need to nurture your courage, start with these three questions, and see where they take you.
If fear weren’t an option, what would you do? If you suddenly woke up tomorrow, and it was impossible to feel fear, how would you act? What risks would you take? What does that say about your need for courage?
How would you feel if you didn’t go for it? Imagine staying right where you are. What does that look like five or ten years down the road? How does that feel to you? If regret bubbles up, what does that mean about how you need to act today, this week, this month?
What would Beyonce do? OK—you can insert your own idol’s name there, but the idea remains the same. Who is one person you admire? Imagine her or him in your shoes. How would she or he act? (Beyonce, for instance, would simply slay.)
My mother recently gifted me some tea towels that read, “What if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?” Which I think is a beautiful depiction of our inner dialogue when we need some guts.
So here’s to leading with courage. I hope you fly.
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