Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Looking back and wondering if your life could have been somehow better if you’d only had the guts to do something or say something differently is an uncomfortable feeling. Whether it’s your job, your marriage or a friendship, people are often paralyzed by fear.
So instead of taking an uncomfortable action, we take no action, which can often be worse for the situation.
“None of us are immune to fear — of failing, criticism, rejection or falling short in some way — but too often we let fear pilot our lives,” said Margie Warrell, author of the new book Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love, and Life. “In today’s culture of fear, living fully has become synonymous with living bravely.”
Warrell herself has had to live bravely: she battled bulimia as a young woman, lost one of her brothers who took his life after a long battle with mental illness, lost five unborn babies, and has had to help her other brother overcome the difficulties of paraplegia following a horrific motor-vehicle accident. Her booked is based on the theory that “courage begets courage.”
Here are Warrell’s tips for bringing bravery to your everyday life:
1. Be decisive despite your uncertainty
In an age where we have so much information available to us, waiting until you have all the information you want (and have analyzed it fully) can prove costly and inhibiting. Sure, making a decision, despite the ambiguity and uncertainty opens the possibility of messing up or making a mistake. But in a world where change is happening fast and the windows of opportunity are limited, choosing to do nothing can exact a far steeper toll on your career, your business, and your life.
2. Have a brave conversation
The most important conversations demand vulnerability — putting your ego and your desire for approval on the line. That’s why people often try to avoid them or opt to send a text when should really talk. When you risk stepping out from behind your computer screen and talking openly and candidly about sensitive or contentious issues, you are able to add value, build influence and earn trust in ways that tiptoeing around crucial issues never can. Being willing to engage in what I call “courageous conversations” is crucial to your success. People may not always like what you have to say, but they will always respect your willingness to speak up and share what you genuinely think needs to be said.
3. Dare to be different
While no one wants to be disliked, criticized or rejected, only when you risk all of those can you add the unique value you have to bring and set yourself apart from the masses. So own what makes you unique, forge your own path, express your own opinion and make a stand for what’s true for you. When all you do is try to fit in, you negate the difference our difference makes.
4. Forget perfect
So there’s something you really want to do but you think you have to do it perfectly before you even start out. You don’t! While it’s good to have high standards, sometimes what serves us so much more is lowering the bar and just giving things a go. With four kids and busy career I’ve adopted the mantra “Done is better than perfect.” Doing so frees me to take on new challenges and complete tasks far more efficiently than I would if I was aiming for Da Vinci like mastery or perfection. Same for you. Don’t wait until you now everything before you do something and don’t pressure yourself with thinking that something has to be done perfectly for it to be done well.
5. Promote yourself
There’s a distinct difference between promoting yourself to stroke an insecure ego and sharing your value so that those who can help you add more of it know who you are and what you’re capable of doing. Too often a misguided sense of humility keeps us from letting people who can help us advance know who we are, what we’ve done and what we want to do in the future. In today’s competitive world, unless you are willing to toot your own horn from time to time, you run the risk of being left behind as the opportunities you thought would be laid at your humble feet are given to the horn blowers around you.
6. Say no
Saying yes is always easier than saying no because that’s what people want you to say. But too often we overcommit ourselves because we’re afraid of causing disappointment, offence or missing out. It takes courage to decline an invitation or opportunity but it’s something you’ve got to do if you want to create the space in your life for even more important things. Sometimes you have to say no to the good to make room for the great.
7. Share your struggles
Life is not an Instagram feed, though we live with a constant pressure to paint our lives as though it were. Letting down your mask and sharing with others what you are struggling with, perhaps even asking for help, can leave you feeling vulnerable but it can also open the door to creating far more rewarding and meaningful relationships. As I wrote in Brave, we connect far more deeply through our struggles than we ever do through our successes.
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