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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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