“You have to get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.”
–Poppa, The Good Dinosaur
Franklin D. Roosevelt is famously known for having courage in a time of economic distress to state that American citizens had “nothing to fear but fear itself.” That’s a great thought and sentiment, but what should resonate is how he continued—
“…nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
How striking and bold are those words?! But that’s exactly what fear is in our lives. Fear keeps us from asking for what is rightfully ours. It tends to make us cower and not blossom when we need to. Further, it causes us to dwell on things that may happen, or consequences that could result from a situation. We often don’t take into consideration the difference having courage can mean for personal and professional advancement. I’ve taken deliberate steps to exhibit courage in my own life, and I think it’s important for anyone looking to achieve success to do the same.
Steps towards courage
I remember when I first learned about wines and the differences in their varieties. The wine list was exhaustive! I was so confused. I didn’t know what some things meant, much less how to pronounce them. I didn’t want to speak up and look unintelligent, cultured…STUPID! But you know what I realized? Not knowing how to pronounce a word didn’t make me stupid; it made me human.
I began admitting that I didn’t know certain things, and I needed help. I asked more questions, and I learned so much about the wine industry. I’m no sommelier, but I now have advanced knowledge about some of my favorite wines—all due to having courage and not letting the unknown stop me from moving myself forward.
In a nutshell, that’s how courage works. If you can face your fears head-on, no matter what form they may take in your life or career, you’ll soon show yourself that you can handle anything!
Courage can be uncomfortable
Here’s a hard reality: having courage can be extremely uncomfortable. This is especially true if you experience anxiety, meekness, fear, or a strong desire to avoid conflict and confrontations. Many people, especially us women, can have a hard time standing up for ourselves, particularly when the result could be raised voices or being seen in a different light. Do you know what’s worse than feeling uncomfortable? Watching people get your raise or promotion because they faced being uncomfortable. Ouch!
It’s horrible facing the realities of gaps in gender pay. Not having courage when opportunities arise to discuss these situations in the workplace only perpetuates the issue. If you work as hard as others, you deserve to get paid equally! Being uncomfortable may make you uneasy, but it won’t kill you. Avoiding opportunities to stand up for well-deserved and well-earned advancement can kill you professionally, though. It will ultimately devastate you personally as a result. Take the risk. The result may surprise you.
The power of courage
My life experiences have taught me that having courage really is the password to achieving whatever I’ve felt called to do. Courage helped me navigate the difficulties of my divorce. It pushed me to care for my two boys, build a business, oversee international charity endeavors and pursue television opportunities while dealing with the divorce. Yes, there were many days I was afraid and unsure about everything I had going on. But I made a choice to stare all of those fears in the face and tell them where they could go!
Having courage to fight fear and go against the grain for personal and professional growth may always be a challenge. But it’s a challenge I will always accept. I deserve what’s on the other side. My future is worth it. I am worth it.
And so are you.