There are numerous ways to cultivate your courage muscle and mindset in business and life. Here are five.
- Get comfortable with uncomfortable in business and life.
Understanding this phrase is to appreciate that it’s what helps us grow and develop as human beings. For most people, there is no comfort during change, especially DEEP change. As motivational speaker Robin Sharma says, change is messy in the middle before it becomes beautiful.
I have found being adaptable or flexible are the best ways to work through this. Business can be a rollercoaster ride and typically just when you find steadiness, a challenge will present itself. How you approach the challenge will determine how well you ride the wave of business insecurity. Being adaptable, flexible and knowing how to pivot are skills to help us ride the wave better when there is no firm foundation to stand on.
A great example of this is COVID-19. Do I need to say anymore?
- Feel the Fear
Reflect on two things you’ve always wanted to do but every time you think about them you are afraid, experience overwhelm, discomfort or resistance.
Find a private space and for a few moments feel this feeling within your body. What kind of a sensation is it? What does it look like? Does it have a colour? Go deeper into the sensation if you can without giving it a label. The aim is to get to a point where you can see through the vibration of the sensation. You sense it breaking apart. By doing this exercise regularly, you can get to this point and come to understand that what you are afraid of is actually empty. Humans are really good at making fear appear solid.
What I have described above is easy to say, but difficult to do so this is good to practice as a meditation activity.
I remember when I first decided to start up a podcast. Technology and I generally don’t get on as things often go awry. Panic would usually set in as I wouldn’t know how to go about finding a solution. This time, I was determined to forge ahead despite the big black ball of fear sitting in my belly. My drive to remain steadfast and not let fear take control was strong even when mistakes were made. When I asked myself why I was so afraid, the answer that came from within was because of all the mistakes I could make. I understood the perfectionist within me was being challenged.
I walked through the corridor of fear and yes, made mistakes – still do – but have gained so much growth from the experience.
When you jump on the self-development train, especially cultivating a courage mindset, be kind to yourself. Start small and take incremental steps towards your goal, especially if at first it seems monumental.
Take some time to reflect on experiences in life and/or business that have seriously challenged you. In particular, think about situations or experiences which have been very challenging and generated fear, resistance or deep discomfort within you. The challenge may have been triggered by knowing that, despite moving forward, you didn’t know what the outcome would be.
Take the time to write down ALL you have learned by moving through the corridor of fear having faced the situation/challenge, leaned into discomfort or allowed yourself to be vulnerable. Write it down. Once you have done this, read over what you have written.
Can you see elements of strength, grit, achievement, courage in the outcomes? Do you have improved confidence or self esteem as a result of the growth that has transpired? Being aware of this serves to allow you to do greater things with less fear and the opportunity to better manage it.
- Travel solo to foreign countries offers amazing growth.
Let’s dream for a moment. It’s pre-COVID 19 and traveling to foreign countries without the risk of catching COVID was do-able.
Travelling solo can be very challenging for some and this is when stepping into courage is important. While there are language and direction apps available you still need to navigate local customs, transport, cultural etiquette and dare I say, language and direction, should WIFI fail to work.
I love travelling solo and find navigating the above a bit of an adventure. In 2019, I had the good fortune of walking the Camino from Portugal into Spain via the Coastal Route. I put myself in a position where I knew I would be challenged. My sense of direction isn’t great and while arrows usually lead the way along the Camino, sometimes they are placed in obscure places. This can lead to getting lost. It happened to me a few times but I trusted the motto that all works itself out on the Camino. It always did.
A little while ago, I put together a survey for people who had walked a Camino route. There were 100 participants. Fifty six percent of participants believed they were more courageous after having walked the Camino and 57% believed they had become more resilient.
Travelling solo may be seen as lifestyle pursuit but it has many advantages in a business or workplace setting. For instance, work places are more culturally diverse workplaces these days and adaptability, being solutions-focused are highly sought after attributes.
- Be honest with yourself
You may think this is a bit soft but on the contrary, being honest with yourself puts you in the position to acknowledge your good qualities as well as those flaws or not so attractive qualities about yourself. Self-reflection is a great tool.
When speaking to people, I get a sense of those who have worked on themselves. In my experience, such people have insight, wisdom, understanding, compassion and kindness. This usually comes as a result of navigating adversity, numerous challenges and leaning into discomfort and fear at some point. These qualities provide them with the understanding of walking in the shoes of others.
While you may find you are not able to change some of your less desirable behaviours, you can control how you manage them by turning the volume up or down.
Being honest with yourself means having the courage to apologise when you are a dick. This may be to a colleague, your peers, your staff, your loved one, your child. Especially your child. This takes guts as your child takes in everything you do including how you present yourself to the world.
Cultivating your courage muscle is also about taking action and an important step in building confidence and self esteem. It isn’t just a navel gazing or reflective intellectual exercise. It’s the cycle of inner work, practical activities and repetitive actions on a regular basis to ensure that your courage muscle and mindset stay flexed and strong.