I recently read that courage is like a muscle. It gets stronger when we use it. So true, right?
And there’s big business in getting you to flex your courage muscles by doing scary things. Many leadership experiences and mastermind retreats will engage you in something wild and terrifying, because, the idea goes, if you do things that freak the crap out of you, you will become more courageous. You push the edge of your comfort zone and get comfortable with being scared. Therefore, you grow. Makes sense!
Yet, there’s no real need to jump out of an airplane, take up street fighting, or spontaneously speak to a massive crowd to stretch your courage muscles. There’s plenty of scare-the-pants-off-of-you things you can do right inside your regular life. No parachute required.
For example, how about taking the bold step of a difficult conversation with someone you care about? Or sticking up for yourself within a crowd or situation where you usually let the slights fly under the radar? How about owning your own needs and asking for them?
Many times in my past I glossed over my own needs just to “go with the flow”. I didn’t take the courageous step to voice a simple request or draw a boundary because I didn’t want to appear too needy. I was an Independent Woman! An Independent Woman doesn’t need to keep asking for things, right? Umm…no. Not only were needs not met in this way, but a big part of me was never known. And I wasn’t working my bravery and was accidentally building my resentment.
Ok, now this is embarrassing and a little crazy. But it’s a perfect example of how not speaking up can go oh-so-badly. When I had my first professional massage ever, I didn’t have the courage to tell the Masseuse that the pressure was too hard (even though she asked several times) because I was too worried she would think I was telling her she was doing it wrongly. And so, not only did I get in the way of her doing her J-O-B correctly, I ended up with train-track bruises that went all the way down my back. And I was in a wedding two days later as a bridesmaid. In a backless dress! Sigh. You just can’t make this stuff up.
And so, lesson (painfully) learned. It was time to practice saying my needs and speaking up, even when it’s scary.
What about you? Where can you take a scary step within your life as it is already? (no airplanes required!) I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.