Three ways to baby-step your way to brave

Anyone who looks like they’re fearless is a great actor.

Everyone is afraid of something: snakes, clowns, cats… This doesn’t even begin to consider one of the biggies—fear of public speaking.  But one of the most powerful habits of successful people is their willingness—their commitment—to act despite fear.

There are definitely days when I feel like I’ve got a broad yellow streak painted down my back, marking me a coward who doesn’t want to do something that feels risky or uncomfortable.  Fortunately, I’ve found that the way to erase this mark is to do just one little thing to keep myself from getting paralyzed by fear.

It’s not a good idea to wait until you need a shot of courage and then hope you’ll be able to find it.  Much better to start building your courage muscles, a baby-step at a time, so that you’ll have reserves of courage ready for when you really need them.

Courage is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs.


Courage can be developed.

Here are three bravery builders you can add to your professional-development regimen.

1.  Say hello to someone you don’t know in your spiritual community.  After all, these are presumably like-minded people, right?  They’re going to be willing to reach back if you reach out to them.  In fact, that other person may not be as brave as you are, so you’re probably doing them a favor by making the connection first.

Success Tip #1: Prepare in advance the open-ended question you’ll ask to get the conversation rolling.

Success Tip #2: Prepare in advance a gracious comment that will allow you to end the conversation comfortably whenever you’re ready to.

 2.  Go to a different restaurant to try a new type of cuisine.  You and I both know how easy it is to get into restaurant ruts.  A pretty easy way to bulk up your bravery is to try a new one from time to time.

Success Tip #1: Ask friends for their favorite-restaurant recommendations, so you don’t feel like you’re stepping into a completely unknown situation.

Success Tip #2: Rather than go for dinner, just try some soup or appetizers.  That will stretch your comfort zone a bit, but you won’t be bummed about having spent a lot of time or money if it turns out you’re not crazy about the food.  And if you do love it—Woohoo!  Time to order more.

3a.  If you’d rather swallow a live bug than speak in front of a group, join a local Toastmasters Club.  These organizations are ideal for people whose fear of public speaking makes them cringe at the very thought; the atmosphere is very encouraging and supportive.  Although it’s not a cakewalk—you will be challenged to work on any weak spots—you’ll receive feedback in a way that builds you up rather than tears you down.

Success Tip #1:  Just click on the link above to find a local club in your area.  That’s a tiny little baby step in the right direction.

Success Tip #2:  Call a local organization to see if you can attend one meeting as a guest (sometimes you can do this at no charge).

 3b.  If they have a hard time pulling you off-stage when you have a microphone in your hand, seek out opportunities to speak to a larger group than you’re used to addressing.

Success Tip #1:  If you’re not already familiar with professional associations who could benefit from your expertise, check out the website of the American Society of Association Executives.  As their website says, “[Your] search results provide a list of associations that meet your selection criteria.”

Success Tip #2:  Before you approach any organization, clearly articulate what’s in it for them to have you speak to their group.  How will you make life better/easier/more profitable for their members?

So there you have three steps that will help you build your courage muscles.  What other approaches have you found helpful for acting despite your fear or discomfort?  Are you brave enough to share them with the rest of us?

By the way, thanks to Celestine Chua for posting her image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.

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