What Scares You?

Living courageously doesn’t mean that you’re never scared. It means that you learn to embrace your fear and move past it — to allow it to strengthen you rather than weaken or paralyze you.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I love this quote, because it helps me remember the importance of stretching myself, of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and taking a stand for the things I want in life but am afraid to pursue.

Stay True to Who You Are
The key is to align your choices, behaviors and actions with who you are or who you want to be and what is most important to you — to try new things that feed into your larger life goals and commitments.

For example, I am committed to always being courageous, generous and passionate in all aspects of my life. That’s who I am and who I want to be. When I’m living in that space, I’m always energized and happy. I always feel like my life is working. And, I also achieve great things and am able to make the biggest difference with others.

When I become petty, stingy, cowardly and/or cautious, I immediately start suffering. My energy deflates, the magic dries up and my ability to make things happen and support others reduces significantly.

So, just like I go to the gym a few times a week to keep my body in shape, I practice doing one thing every day that scares me, in order to keep my being in shape. This could mean being generous with someone beyond my comfort zone, saying yes to opportunities that require me to work with new people, designing and leading programs that require new thinking, speaking in front of audiences I’ve never addressed, initiating relationships with people I find intimidating, or even simply saying “thank you” or “I’m sorry” to someone when it feels awkward or embarrassing.

Regret Hurts Worse Than Failure
Why is it so important to step outside our comfort zones? Because we are far more likely to regret the things we never dared to try than to regret our failures. After all, failure is merely an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work — which puts us one step closer to learning what does.

Many people are miserable because they feel they left something on the table. When you know that you gave it your all (even if it didn’t work out), you have a sense of peace. You might not always be happy, but your self-esteem is intact. You have no regrets. You know that if it didn’t work out like you wanted this time, you can always try again. Better yet, you know that you are capable of doing things you didn’t think you could do. You strengthen your belief in yourself, and that’s a powerful, courageous way to live. But, if you didn’t live up to your vision of who you are, you will most likely have a sense of defeat, failure and diminished self-worth.

Join the Conversation
I would love to hear from you. Please share examples of “scary” things you’ve done and how that affected your overall happiness. Also, in what areas of your life could you start doing things that scare you? 

What’s Killing Your Courage?

Courageous living is powerful, rewarding and, in my humble opinion, the only way to really live life. But while the concept is simple, applying it is not always easy. Living courageously means learning to ignore the naysayers — including the one in the mirror.

The Enemies of Courage
The biggest enemies of living courageously are negative emotions and attitudes, such as cynicism, resignation and jealousy. People often become convinced — by things others have said or by their own unenlightened thoughts — that they can’t have what they want, that they are not capable or worthy of achieving their dreams. I have seen many people stop believing in their goals and dreaming about their desires and resign themselves to the idea that what they want to do, be or have is impossible. And so they stop trying to go for it.

Often the cynical conversations that lead to resignation stem from jealousy. We compare ourselves to others and come to the conclusion that they are better, smarter or more successful than us. We make undermining comments about others who we feel are more successful — businesswise, financially, family-wise, etc. We look for what’s wrong, broken or imperfect in these people’s lives as a way to feel better about ourselves. Having convinced ourselves we can’t have what we want in life, we attempt to convince others they can’t have it either.

Any conversation that makes us doubt our dreams, our self-worth and our ability to have the life we want is an enemy to courageous living.

Change the Dialogue
I once heard someone describe courageous living as “ordinary people living with an extraordinary commitment.” I resonate with both parts. With the “ordinary people” part — they have doubts, fears and undermining thoughts like everyone else — and with the “extraordinary commitment” part. When these internal undermining thoughts and conversations come up, instead of saying, “No, you’re right; I can’t do that,” courageous people ask, “Why not? Why can’t I fulfill my dreams and have what I want or do that?” These people refuse to accept defeat or to take no for an answer. They insist there’s a better way. And so they find one.

Join the Conversation
Please share what you think. What have you been telling yourself that you can’t do? What have you let others tell you is impossible? And how do you intend to prove them wrong?