Written by Megan Pettingill

Finding courage and following your heart

Ask yourself this: “If I had more courage, what would I stop doing right now? What would I start doing?”

Courage is one of the cornerstone habits of great leaders. Mostly because everything you want out of life is on the other side of fear and to jump that hurdle, you need courage. That tough client you want to land? That new skill you’ve been trying to master? That exciting relationship? All on the other side of fear. Luckily, courage can be learned and practiced indefinitely and, like any skill, the more you work it, the more courageous you’ll be.

At different moments in your life, you’ll need to quiet your inner critic and find the courage to overcome the roadblocks that stop you from exponentially improving your life. But how do you uncover the courage you need?

Name your fear

When you feel like something is holding you back, stop and think. What is that something? Have you felt it before and let it stop you? Are you afraid that someone will make fun of you? That you’re going to fail? Or that someone else can do it better?

Whatever that “something” is, you need to give it a name. Be more self-aware about what you’re afraid of so you can start to figure out why it’s stopping you. You can’t understand something if you don’t acknowledge it. But once you can clearly name your fear and talk about it, your fear will start to lose some of its power.

Focus on the why

To surge ahead in life (both personally and professionally), remind yourself of why you want to start or stop doing something. “Courage is a heart word,” writes Brené Brown. “The root of the word courage is cor — the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart’.”

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by fear or anxiety, focus instead on all the positive outcomes and remember why it’s important. Reconnect with your heart and take a breath to wash away your fear and self-doubt.

Create an action plan 

Undoubtedly, this step is the most important part of finding courage. A plan moves an idea from start to finish — it’s what creates a result. Action overcomes fear, demonstrates courage, and gets you past the barrier. So find somewhere quiet and think about where you need to start demonstrating more courage. If you fear public speaking, find an opportunity to talk to a group (small or large). Outline your talking points and immerse yourself in them. Cut yourself a little slack and dive in.

In the moment, it might feel easier to give in to your fear and back down from what you want. But in the long run? You don’t want to be the person who takes the easy way out. Fight hard and bring out the courage that will get you where you want to go and make you a stronger, more inspirational leader to yourself and others.

So, how will you be more courageous today?

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