Advertising
Advertising

7 Effective Ways To Boost Your Courage

7 Effective Ways To Boost Your Courage

In general, we experience two types of fear: the fear that indicates we’re in physical danger (for example, when we’re standing in the middle of a busy road), and the fear that indicates our ego is in danger (e.g. fear of public speaking).

In modern society, there are very few situations in which we are in physical danger, so most of the fear we feel has more to do with threats to our ego and self-concept than threats that could cause us physical harm. However, these two types of fear feel very similar, and provoke the same primal fight or flight response in our body.

Boosting our courage isn’t about eradicating our fear; it’s such a primal, instinctive response that this isn’t a realistic goal. Instead, it’s about learning how to respond to our fear in a healthy way. Here are seven effective ways you can start boosting your courage today:

1. Remind yourself that fear isn’t always helpful.

Fear is helpful in situations where we have control and can take steps to minimize the risk of our disaster scenario coming true. For example, if we’re still standing in the middle of that busy road I mentioned above, fear is a good indicator to start moving. Equally, if we’re facing an upcoming public speaking gig, our fear might indicate that we need a little more practice.

Advertising

In some situations, however, fear can do more harm than good. If we respond to every fear-inducing situation like we’re in mortal danger, we’re going to end up missing out on valuable opportunities to live fully and enjoy growth and new experiences. A helpful, courage-boosting question to ask yourself when deciding how to respond to a situation is: “Am I avoiding pain, or seeking growth?

2. Expand your comfort zone gradually.

Boosting your courage isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a day-by-day process and you’re more likely to experience success in this area if you focus on expanding your comfort zone one step at a time.

For example, if you notice that you feel fear around talking to new people, start small by asking someone for directions or striking up a short conversation with people you encounter in your day-to-day life but are unlikely to see again (shop assistants, checkout staff, people waiting in line, and so on). Once you feel more comfortable doing that, start working your way up to longer conversations with people you are likely to see infrequently (new work colleagues, friends of friends), then people you’re likely to see on a regular basis, and so on.

3. Remember to breathe.

Our physical state has a huge impact on our emotional state. Try slouching over and drooping your mouth into a frown for 10 seconds, then sitting up straight with a dazzling smile for another 10—did you notice a difference in how you felt?

Advertising

If we want to boost our courage in a particular situation, one of the most effective ways of doing this is to slow down our breathing. When we’re feeling fearful, our breathing unconsciously becomes faster and shallower. Taking a few deep breaths sends the signal to our minds that everything is OK and helps us relax.

4. Take a step back and get objective.

Usually, the fear we feel isn’t so much about the worst case scenario we’re thinking of—it’s about how we would feel if that scenario comes to pass.

Using the public speaking example, let’s imagine the worst case scenario is that you forget what you wanted to say. Even if the audience ended up booing you off the stage, all that would happen on a factual level afterwards is that you go home and learn from the experience for next time. How you feel, on the other hand, might include embarrassed, ashamed, hopeless, and a host of other uncomfortable feelings. The next time you’re faced with a public speaking opportunity, it will be the feelings you remember and fear more than what actually happened.

To boost your courage, try to stay objective and focus on the facts of the matter. Pay attention to what actually happened, rather than the meaning you’re attaching to it.

Advertising

5. Think of how you’d view a friend in the same situation.

One of the biggest challenges to our courage is the fact that we tend to be harsher with ourselves than we are with other people.

The next time you’re faced with an opportunity to expand your comfort zone, ask yourself how you would perceive your best friend in the same situation. Would you focus on the potential pitfalls, or would you admire them for taking the risk?

Thinking about how we’d view other people in the same situation can help reset any stories we’re telling ourselves and engender more self-trust and courage.

6. Ask, “Who do I need to become?” instead of, “What do I need to do?”

When it comes to stretching our comfort zone and committing acts of courage, we often focus on what we need to do. The real shift that needs to take place, however, revolves around who we need to become.

Advertising

For example, if you decided you wanted to get active and train for a triathlon by the end of the year, information that will tell you what to do to get there is readily available. What will decide whether or not you have the courage to actually go out and do it, however, is thinking about who you need to become in order to be someone who does that.

What qualities would a courageous future version of yourself have? How would they start each day? What new habits would they develop? What old habits would they change?

7. Take action.

When we’re feeling low on courage, it’s tempting to sit and think about how we’re going to find the motivation we’re looking for, to read articles online (present company excepted, of course), talk about it—anything but actually do the thing we’re afraid of doing.

If you’re waiting to feel more courageous before taking action, you’re going to be waiting a long time. In reality, the longer you wait before taking action, the less courageous you’ll feel. The only thing that will help you feel more courageous is taking action, stepping outside your comfort zone, and sending yourself the message that you are a courageous person.


What are your tips to boost courage? Leave a comment and let us know.

Featured photo credit: venspired via flickr.com

More by this author

You Can Easily Enjoy Life In A Way Most People Don’t 7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence 5 Killer Online Journaling Tools You Should Try Out Why You Should Always Embrace Negative Emotions Simple Mindsets That Can Make You Calm And Happy Every Day

Trending in Productivity

1The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? 210 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs 3What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating) 46 Simple Steps to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals 5Secrets to Organizing Thoughts and Ideas (So You’ll Never Lose Ideas!)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

Advertising

So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

Advertising

  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

Advertising

According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

Read Next