Choosing Courage When You're Afraid

business owner coaching Mar 14, 2022

There was no shortage of fear in the process of leaving my career at Southwest Airlines to go out on my own. 

I had been working on The Strengths Journal for a few years while also dreaming of a coaching and consulting business to call my own. I knew it was time to take this leap of faith. 

But behind that knowing? There was a lot of fear.

What if I regret leaving my corporate job? 

What if my business fails? 

Will I feel lonely without coworkers?

Friends and family commented on my courage for publishing The Strengths Journal and launching a new business. But I knew all too well the fear lurking just behind that courage. 

Bethany Hamilton, a famous surfer who survived a deadly shark attack, said about courage: 

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

I was afraid to leave Southwest to pursue my new dreams. But in the midst of that fear, I knew my dreams would never become a reality without sacrificing comfort. 

So even in the moments I didn’t feel like it, I chose courage. Like love, courage grows when we use it as an action, instead of waiting for it to feel right.

In the midst of this transition, I learned a lot about courage. How it requires vulnerability, how to search for it in my CliftonStrengths®, and how becoming courageous doesn’t happen overnight. 

For those of you ready to take the next step forward, even amidst your fears, here’s how I choose courage when it matters most. 



The 3 Secrets to Choosing Courage


#1. Get vulnerable. 


It’s okay to not feel confident and powerful all the time. In fact, you really don’t need to call upon courage unless you’re feeling scared or vulnerable.

Courage requires fear. And admitting those fears to others requires vulnerability.

But vulnerability is exactly what you need when seeking courage. People can connect with and relate to vulnerability—it’s our shared humanity. When you’re genuinely connected with others, you can get the support you need to do the next right thing. 

And even if you’re still feeling shaky, you can borrow some courage from another too.

As Brené Brown says in her book Daring Greatly

"Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need.”

Dare to be vulnerable with those you trust; let your guard down. You may be surprised to discover even the most confident among us feel scared and small sometimes. 

When we’re willing to not have it all together, we can share and borrow genuine courage. 


#2. Search for courage in your CliftonStrengths®


While some of the CliftonStrengths® have more obvious signs of bold courage, like Command® or Woo®, each of the 34 Strengths hold potential for their own flavor of courage. 

In the first few pages of The Strengths Journal, I created a section called “This is Me.” Here, the writer (you!) lists their top 5-10 Strengths and what each of them “brings and needs.” When seeking courage, I search this page for clues. 

My high Ideation® and Futuristic® describe my natural talents for developing effective ideas and to visualize these ideas in the future. Put simply, I’m good at bringing big ideas to life. 

My unique Strengths give me the courage I need to trust myself, even when I’m afraid.

Our Strengths provide endless insight into what we need when we’re afraid, and what Strengths we can draw upon when we’re ready to choose courage.

If you don’t yet know your top 5 Strengths, you can discover them here. Each of your Strengths will glean insight into how you can access the courage you need. 


#3. Practice courage daily. 


Courage is a muscle. And if you’re like me and trying to build muscle in the gym, you know building muscle tone doesn’t happen overnight. 

Developing muscle requires weekly, if not daily, devotion. But this is also true—you can build your courage muscle with one small brave action each day. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day; a little consistency goes a long way. 

This is exactly why I included this prompt at the end of each day in The Strengths Journal

“What I learned today or fear I conquered today…”

At the end of each week, I review these “courage” moments from throughout the week. Seeing how I stepped out, even in little ways like trying Instagram stories for the first time, builds my courage muscle and reminds me how capable I am. 

When I step out in fear, I actually grow. This builds both courage and confidence.

Whether you’re making a big decision this week, trying something new, or navigating uncharted waters in your business—you can choose courage. 

Get vulnerable, search for courage in your CliftonStrengths®, and practice courage daily in the little things. 

Sustainable courage is built in small, brave moments every single day. The more you practice courage, the easier it is to access, just when you need it most.

"He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life." 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson




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