How Do You Practise Courage?
Aristotle said: “Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.” And Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Courage underpins our ability to push outside our comfort zones, to take risks, to learn and grow, and ultimately, improve. It can be daunting to show courage, because to truly be courageous means you must first experience vulnerability.
Courage comes in many shapes and forms, and when used in the workplace, it can be extremely powerful. Here's a few ways you can practise:
- If you’re feeling vulnerable, express it. Put aside fear of appearing weak, incompetent or imperfect. Showing vulnerability, especially as a leader, requires strength.
- Regularly say “yes” and throw yourself into projects or situations that make you feel just a little nervous. Feel your discomfort, prepare, and then tell yourself, ‘I can do this’.
- Visibly discuss and address the emotions of a work situation, not just the facts. Try to understand and take into consideration both, without mixing it all up or ignoring one key part.
- Embrace your imperfections and stop seeking approval. Prioritise learning and personal improvement and don’t put the opinions of others at a higher value than your own.
- Change up your language. Replace words like "failing" with the word "learning" and pop the word “yet” onto the end of limiting sentences you say or hear. For example, I can’t do this – yet!
- Be less binary and suspend judgement when creating a new habit or learning something new. Avoid seeing things as positive or negative, or as success or failure, intead consider everything as a work in progress!
- Ask others for help. Be specific about what you need and how people might support you.
- Stop and make/take the time to have an uncomfortable conversation. Ask curious caring questions and get below the surface, or prepare to say what should be said in the right way.
Set a goal of practising small acts of courage, and embrace vulnerability and getting comfortable with the feeling of discomfort, as part of the process. It is through regularly practising many different forms of little courage, that we find our biggest courage when we really need it most!
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