The fastest way to build courage is not to face the challenge head on

I know. Seems like a silly thing to say.

Eventually, you have to face the challenge head on.

But not first.

Not while you’re working on your confidence.

To get more courageous, you have to cross-train.

Go somewhere where no one knows you.

Immerse yourself in a different context.

Then do the thing that scares you:

  • Give a presentation
  • Challenge others’ ideas
  • Argue against your own perspective
  • Dive in and do something you’re likely to fail at
  • Ask the person you’re least aligned with to tell you what they think of your idea

Do this for a few months. The longer the better.

All the while, watch as you become more confident, stronger, more courageous not where you’re doing these things, but in the context where it really matters and where you want it most.

I once had a boss tell me I needed to be more confident.

No sh*t.

I knew it. It was obvious.

Problem was, I didn’t know how to become more confident.

Years later, I pursued a life-long dream to obtain a degree in counseling.

In a different setting than work, surrounded by an entirely different profile of human-kind, I found myself among people with whom I felt camaraderie. Rather than fight to prove my ideas, they operated from the same general worldview. It gave me confidence to believe in my own voice.

Years later, more confident than before but still struggling to push myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, I was choosing safety and steadiness over risk and innovation. Until I found myself in a hot yoga class with a very ‘unconventional’ yoga instructor.

His classes had a bootcamp flavor but instead of drilling additional burpees or push-ups, his drills were to develop our muscles of courage. He’d yell, “If you’re not going to take a risk in here…where will you take it?” Yes, I pushed to my outer limits where nothing felt familiar or comfortable. Yes, there were voices that said ‘don’t try that…you don’t know how’. And…yes…I did it anyway. Sometimes, I fell. But I didn’t care.

I got more comfortable being uncomfortable.

It no longer scared me.

I no longer dreaded the falling down, because it was now normal. The usual.

If you’re seeking to be more courageous, innovative or confident…the answer is cross-training. Not just once, but over a long period. Commit to a series of opportunities, not just a free-trial, one-time deal.

The great news is that courage is a muscle that can be developed.

Get out there and get strong.

The world needs us to be brave.

 

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