Your level of courage is influenced by many factors such as your relationships (parents, siblings, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends, work colleagues), your personality (introvert, extrovert, beliefs, mindset), your experiences and perhaps most of all, your instincts.
I have seen people overcome fear to achieve things they never thought possible, and I consistently do it myself.
Fear is everywhere, and it doesn’t need to be.
In group courses – you don’t share an experience, contribute to conversations or put your hand up when the facilitator needs a volunteer.
At seminars and public events – you don’t ask the question that’s on the tip of your tongue.
In meetings – you don’t verbalise your idea, opinion or solution.
In working groups or business events – you don’t volunteer to share information first, you wait for someone else to take the lead.
Communication – you avoid the random or difficult conversation.
Public speaking – Some people would rather die than deliver a presentation.
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Social groups – you don’t make a decision on behalf of a group because it may be unpopular.
Putting yourself out there goes against the ‘herd’ and your mammalian brain will sabotage your actions to ensure you remain protected by the herd.
This instinct was a life saver when humans protected each other from sabre tooth tigers, however we don’t need that sort of protection in a meeting (unless your boss is a monster).
This herd mentality is sabotaging your growth more than you know.
The good news is you’re human which means you have the ability to recognise the physiological, emotional and cognitive signs of ‘fight or flight’ response as it’s happening and consciously override fear and instinct through deliberate practice.
- Be present – ditch the distractions, especially your phone.
- Dress well – when you look good you feel good so take pride in your appearance.
- Be yourself (unless you’re a bad person, then be a better version of yourself) – it’s ok if other people don’t agree with you and it’s their problem if they don’t like you.
- Challenge the status quo at every opportunity.
- Do something that scares you – Visualise a positive outcome rather than a potential negative.
- Try something new – You’ll be surprised what you learn.
- Don’t let fear of judgement hold you back – if this stops you from taking action then the goals you’re working towards aren’t big enough. Generally, these fears are unfounded.
- Talk to someone you normally wouldn’t and find a reason to compliment a shop assistant or cashier. Have the conversation.
- Do something random – I purchased a bright pink pair of headphones to wear at the gym, at first it was extremely uncomfortable and caused anxiety, now I don’t care which feels great.
- Put your hand up, stand up, speak up, get involved and share what you’re thinking.
- Give a presentation.
- Have fun – don’t take everything so seriously.
The little things matter, be proud of yourself for stepping outside your comfort zone and before you know it you’ll have more courage than you thought possible.
About the author:
Glen Pertzel serves in the Royal Australian Air Force where he is responsible for the development and welfare of Technical Trainee’s entering into the Defence Force. Glen uses his diverse skills and experience including 5 active Middle East deployments to develop individuals and teams to lead and perform at a standard that is world class.