You can look up the definition of courageous and find, “Possessing or displaying courage; able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching.” Notice that this definition says nothing about not being afraid. It’s all about feeling afraid but then doing it anyway. Let’s look at what this means for you.
- Feeling the Fear but Doing It Anyway – The main component of the definition is that you feel fear, but you act anyway. You move forward and do the thing that scares you. Whether that is jumping out of an airplane with a parachute or standing up to your boss, depends on what’s happening in your life.
- Not Giving Up – One major sign of courage is the willingness to stick to your path. It can be very hard in certain situations. If you’re a public person and say something that upsets your fans due to a deeply held conviction, you have to be willing to accept the consequences.
- Knowing What’s Right and Standing Up for It – When you know something is right and you stand up for it even if everyone else is saying the opposite, you’re showing courage. It’s hard to overcome “group think” and speak up for something when you know everyone else is likely to be against you.
- Embracing the Unknown – A lot of fear comes from not knowing what’s going to happen next, which means that you embrace the unknown sometimes to show courage. For example, surely astronauts are afraid when they are launched into space, but they do it anyway even though they really don’t know what it’s going to be like until they get there.
- Being Bold and Unapologetic – When you are convinced about something, it’s best to be bold and unapologetic about it. That’s how it is when you take a stand against something and make the choice to be courageous about it.
Being courageous is an empowering quality to possess. It’s one of the hardest things to do and often comes with significant life consequences, both positive and negative. But when you have the courage of your convictions and you know what’s right, you cannot back down. This is because going against your own morals and values is not an option, and doing the right thing feels right (and is right) even if you are scared.
What Is the Worst Thing That Could Happen?
Everyone makes bad choices in life sometimes. But there is a way to stop making bad choices. Always start your decision-making process with the question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I take that action?”
Explore All Alternatives
When you ask yourself the question about what the worst thing that can happen is, explore every single alternative. Answer that question for each way that you can accomplish the task or do the thing that you’re choosing. For example, if you’re trying to choose whether to quit your job to start a business, write down the answer for both quitting and not quitting so that you can explore all your options.
How Will You Feel If You Do Nothing?
What if you did nothing and everything stayed just like it is right now? What is the worst thing that can happen if you make that choice? Writing that down is also crucial because there are often severe consequences for maintaining the status quo. For example, if you are exploring whether to get the surgery that your doctor recommended, what’s the worst that can happen if you do nothing, get the surgery, or choose another alternative?
Write Down the “What-If’s”
For each decision point along the way for any one choice, there are many different reactions to it that occur. Writing down all the what-ifs that you can think of can help you explore potential alternatives, as well as drill down your decision point. For example, if you’re trying to choose whether to speak at that famous and popular event 90 days from now, what are all the things that can happen if you do it and mess it up, do it and do it well, or don’t do it at all?
Look at Your History
One way to make good choices about things that matter is to look at your history to see if you can learn from a similar decision you made. For example, if you did speak at an event last year and you did horribly, why would you do it again? Well, there are numerous reasons. Maybe you joined Toast Masters to help prevent another lousy showing, and now you’re ready?
Know Who You Are
When you are trying to be courageous, it’s essential to know what you stand for, what your values are, and who you are. Ensure that no contradictions or hypocrisies are getting in your way of success.
Do Your Due Diligence
Research every single path that you can take well. Don’t take an offer without knowing for sure whether it’s a good one or not. It’s not as scary making choices when you have done the homework needed to ensure your facts are right.
Is the Fear Really Protecting You?
Also, when you are feeling fear about anything, it helps to determine if that fear is really helpful or not. It’s not actually beneficial to be fearful of public speaking if you want to be a CEO or CFO of a company, since that often comes with speaking publicly. But, a healthy fear of sharks is a good thing if you plan to swim with them.
The critical fact to know is that the worst thing rarely happens. Study the situation so that you know the real risk that you face when you decide on a course of action. When you know the facts, it’s easier to move forward in the conviction that you’re doing the right thing. Because for the most part, the reactions will not be a surprise to you.