One little step stands between being courageous or being a coward. Literally!
The difference between being courageous and being a coward is – Action.
If you are committed to an outcome or direction that is beyond your comfort level and you take action toward it, you are courageous. If you don’t – you are a coward.
If you are committed to an outcome of direction that is beyond your comfort level most likely you will be afraid; you will have anxiety and/or nervousness about your ability to succeed. You will have moments of doubt, second-guessing yourself and even moments in which you will regret having committed to the direction. You will definitely be tempted to buy-in to excuses such as “It’s the wrong time”, “The risks are too high” and the variety of “I am not good enough” justifications. The fear and anxiety aspects are the same whether you are courageous or a coward.
In fact, the essence of courage is to acknowledge and embrace your fear and then go forward in the face of it. To not be stopped by fear. If you didn’t have the fear, you wouldn’t need to be courageous. Fearless people don’t need courage. However, what makes the difference is how you behave when you are afraid; do you take action to fulfill your commitment or not.
I was coaching a manager who unexpectedly lost his job after dedicating 25 years of his life to the company. He needed to work and earn an income, but he believed he was too old and unqualified to find a new job. He was discouraged, and this led to overwhelming hopelessness and desperation, that paralyzed him.
He made some attempts to reach out to people in his network seeking employment opportunities, but after these weren’t fruitful, he stopped trying. In fact, he stopped other things too, like going to the gym and eating well.
When I met him, he wasn’t in good physical and mental shape. However, he was in good enough shape to sincerely want to change.
My conditions for helping him included him going back to exercising at least four times a week and returning to eating well. These were small familiar actions that he could easily take on. I could see a noticeable difference in his energy and outlook within a few days.
We then made a list of contacts and leads and devised a plan whereby he would contact at least one person every day and then call me to share his progress. Within, a week he lined up two job interviews. Needless to say, this boosted his morale significantly. After four weeks he landed a new job.
If you adopt the mantra of “Progress, not perfection” it will empower you to take action.
You can get yourself unstuck from anything by taking small steps of action. Don’t try to take on too much at once, otherwise, you are likely to fall short, get discouraged and fall back into a bad place. Start with small steps of action in the right direction. I know it may not seem enough, but I promise you that small steps will eventually lead to bigger steps. Progress evokes more progress.
The good news is that we all have everything that we need to be courageous and take action. We may convince ourselves and others of all the reasons why we cannot take a small action forward. However, even if our reasons are legitimate, they are never the true cause of not taking action.
Taking action doesn’t guarantee the outcomes you want. However, if you go full out and fall short you will probably feel much better about yourself and your chances to succeed next time than if you fail because you didn’t try much in the first place.
One of my early professional mentors once told me:
“You either have the results you want, or you have the story why not.”
This mindset has stayed with me ever since.
There are two types of players in life: those who are brave and take action, and those who avoid action.
Which of these do you want to be?