Being courageous isn’t always easy. Let’s face it, we’ve all got fears and concerns and overcoming these can be a challenge, particularly in the workplace.
Management, unknown situations and being pushed out of our comfort zone can have us biting our nails.
But with a few strategies under the belt, we can face our fears. We can empower ourselves to become courageous and apply this to all aspects of our lives.
So, what do we need to do?
1. Redefine failure
A big part of how courageous we are is determined by how we view failure. For many, the fear of failure holds us back. We worry about how we’ll be viewed by others and how the failure will impact on us.
However, by taking a step back from a perceived failure, it’s possible to learn from it. Taking the positives outcomes from it can help us to see how it’s shaped who we are and where we are today.
Instead of focusing on the negative, consider how next time you could do things differently for a better outcome. Think about what you’ve learnt from the experience and how that’s helped you to build resilience and prepare you better in future.
2. Practice mindfulness
Sitting quietly alone without challenge or conversation may sound counter intuitive in building courage. However, doing so is beneficial because it gives us the skills to recognise and manage the physical symptoms of fear.
Fear can present in many ways. Sweating palms, rushing adrenaline or a feeling of nausea. However focused breathing and mindfulness can help to calm our minds and bodies and resist the fight or flight response.
Research shows that regular meditation has the potential to gradually change the way our brain responds to feelings of fear. Over time we could retrain our brains to react to fear in a more rational way with less emotion.
3. Take a back seat
Courage isn’t always about being outspoken, jumping into things and being at the forefront of change. It’s also about letting go of control, being open to direction and trusting others to lead while you follow.
Relinquishing control may not be easy for everyone but it’s a solid way to bond with people. So, what can we do to achieve this?
Delegating tasks to someone and allowing them to fulfill them is a good place to start, as is allowing someone else to lead, particularly in a meeting. Trust courage is also about presuming people have positive intentions and giving them the benefit of the doubt.
4. Take the initiative
One of the best ways to overcome fear and embrace courage is to tackle challenges head on. Not succeeding first time helps us build resilience which, subsequently, builds courage too. Challenges are also about taking the initiative and actioning things.
In a work sense taking the initiative may mean taking on extra duties, proposing better ways of doing things or suggesting new ideas to others. Similarly, it may mean ‘stepping up to the plate’ such as volunteering for a leadership role.
5. Express yourself
Being vocally courageous can feel scary, particularly for introverts. However, speaking up often results in better outcomes for all.
In a more formal situation where you want your voice to be heard, take some time to plan and practice what you want to say. Consider any questions you want to ask and believe in yourself.
Tell the truth, no matter who you’re talking to and use constructive phrases in confrontational situations, such as “I realised that I'm not entirely sure what you meant when you said X earlier”.
In more personal situations, contribute to conversations in small bursts if that helps you feel more confident, and engage with people by asking them direct questions to lead to longer conversations.
6. Overcoming your inner critic
Nagging thoughts that we’re not good enough often inhibit courage. They cast doubt on our goals and perpetuate a feeling of fear and hesitation. The good news is you can overcome your inner critic.
Think about your thoughts objectively. Would you say them to a friend? Likely not. Notice how unkind, unnecessary, and unrealistic they are and change them to be kinder.
Similarly, reframe how you view your faults. Rather than thinking ‘I’m always making mistakes’, think ‘Sometimes I get things wrong but I’m only human’.
Instead of replaying events over in your head and focusing on something you perceive as a failure, distract yourself. Go for a walk, catch up with a friend or spend time doing something you enjoy. Focus on changing what you feel you can and accept the rest.
The little steps you take today can lead you to a more courageous tomorrow. The ability to live a fuller life lies in your hands.
Author - Frontline Human Resources
Tagscourage, values, workplace