By Rebecca Zucker
Partner, Next Step Partners
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about courage. Dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty.” We all know that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, not letting the fear hold you back from taking action.
Simply put, courage is the willingness to step up and do hard things. That, my friends, is an integral component of leadership – whether you are leading yourself or leading others.
Leadership requires courageous acts every single day, both big and small. Click To Tweet Sometimes, it takes courage just to face your email inbox in the morning!
You’re also probably more courageous than you give yourself credit for. It takes courage to do any of the following:
Courage is not for its own sake. A key purpose of building courage is for our own growth and development – and like a muscle, it can be strengthened. Click To Tweet If some of the things on the list above still feel too hard to tackle right now, not to worry. Courage is a quality that we can cultivate through practice, reflection, and integration of new learning from our experience…and more practice!
By leaning into what’s difficult, we learn that while the discomfort of doing something hard may not be fun in the short-term, it may also not be as bad as you thought. And what feels uncomfortable today, may not be uncomfortable tomorrow.
Below are some questions you can use to coach yourself when facing a tough challenge:
After you tackled the challenge, step back and reflect on how it went by asking yourself:
In addition to doing this reflection shortly after you’ve tackled something difficult, try looking back at something that felt really difficult or challenging, perhaps from a year ago, or even several years ago. How do you look at that situation now? How has your perspective changed from that time? What would you tell your younger self now about that difficult situation?
There is tremendous growth in the things that challenge us, whether it’s a small stretch or something more difficult or even painful.
Courage isn’t about bravado – it’s about building confidence in ourselves through small everyday acts, doing hard things when we need to, and learning and growing over time. Click To Tweet What we thought was hard yesterday may not have been as difficult as we imagined. And even if it was as hard as we imagined (or perhaps even harder than we imagined), stepping up to these challenges, reflecting on them and learning from them, gives us greater confidence in our ability to do it again in the future when we need to.