How to Build Courage
Recently I have found myself strongly speaking up for the things that I probably would not dare in the past. When I try to reflect, I have realized this was coming from a place of courage and resilience. And I have found out the following steps are key for the foundation of courage.
- Getting clear about your core values and principles: when you know your core values, you know your boundaries. And this makes your decision making sharper. You would know what you would/should never do, and defining what you would not do makes you more courageous for the possibilities of what you can. It makes it crystal clear when you should speak up instead of creating an unnecessary drama. From the moment I have defined my core values as — integrity, honesty, justice, and holding myself accountable for my decisions, I know I would give myself the hardest time if I do not stand behind these values, or stay silent when something happens against those.
- The core identity and values are far greater than work, status, or any other sort of side identity that you equate yourself. Unfortunately, a lot of people equate themselves with their work, their wealth, financial status, beauty, etc. Therefore, whenever they receive any sort of criticism of such things, they take it very personally, they get an ego hurt. And, that is very normal because you put these side identities as your core, as your main persona. As a result, anything that is touching to this is touching your core, your ego.
But the more clear you get about your core identity, the more courageous you become. Because you would have much less fear of loss for anything but your core identity. You can easily speak up because you would not care what people think, say, or whether they would like you or not as long as you stay true to your core identity. You would easily be able to differentiate your defensive, egotistical reactions from the moments that you should really stand up.
- Most of the time what we are afraid of is what we feel at the moment rather than the situation itself. We are scared because we feel scared. Our future projection of emotions makes the situation look harder to handle than it actually is. A lot of times our subconscious fears, emotions hold us back, back from speaking up and taking action. But when you put your emotions aside, concretely analyze the situation, visualize the worst-case scenario, you would see that the situation is not as much scary most of the time. No matter how persistent they look at the moment, emotions are temporary. We probably all have been there. :) And not holding on to emotions, acknowledging that they will pass will help us analyze the situation more objectively. And this realization is a great tool to fight with the things that hold you back.
- Not living with a victim mindset:
A principle I acquire over the last couple of years is that — I make decisions and I hold myself accountable for the consequences, period. My decisions may not be always right, I do have the right to do mistakes but I do not allow myself to play the victim with excuses, accusing anyone, or anything because of the consequences of my choices. This principle makes it easy to own your mistakes, speak up with your responsibility when things do not go as planned. Remembering the work meetings when I speak up on behalf of our team by saying “I am the one responsible for this situation, but here is the action plan…” is giving me nothing but peace of mind.
With all these being said, life is all about learning, unlearning, and relearning. Growth is never linear. I know I will take one step back to take two steps forward. I will do more mistakes until I could take my behaviors to more conscious levels. But I know awareness is the first step of each growth journey, and that is where my journey of courage has started.