Why We Need to Be Brave

Someone asked me recently to define my professional goal. The first thought that popped into my head was to be FEARLESS! (cue Superman theme song) But that’s not possible, really. I’m human, and fear is part of the human condition. As I tell my clients, my kids, and myself — it’s about being scared and doing it anyway. If we want to grow in life, we need to face our challenges, including worry and anxiety, and move through them.

Be brave. Walk through your fears. These are not novel ideas, and in fact, many of us post, say, and shout these directives and affirmations quite often. But why do we need to be brave?

To live life to the fullest.

Here’s the thing, we learn by doing.

When was the last time your worry actually solved a problem or taught you something (other than how ineffective it is as a coping strategy)? Usually worrying just wastes time and makes me feel worse, while taking the steps to work through the issue makes me feel better.

There are lessons that can only be learned by doing.

Think of something that got easier the more times you did it. I remember being on vacation and terrified the first time I galloped on a horse. I was tense physically, and my mind was filled with images of my broken spine as I got trampled by this beast. For some reason, however, I got back on the horse for the next five days, and by the fourth day, it had gotten easier, and I could relax and actually enjoy the experience.

You’ll learn more about you by (you guessed it) doing.

By stepping into the unknown — and out of your comfort zone — you may see that you can be braver than we imagined. You may be stronger, tougher, and able to handle more than you thought. It was great to see that I could handle more discomfort on a horse than I originally thought and that my worst fears did not come true. I’ve recalled this experience many times when my brain jumps to a catastrophic worst-case scenario to remind myself that I can handle more than I think. While the worst may happen, it’s likely not. It’s just my amygdala trying to protect me.

Good stuff, right? So how do we do this? What if we’re stuck?

I mentioned comfort zone. That’s where we feel safe. On the other end, you’ll find the terror zone, which is where you can shut down if it’s too much. Right in the middle is the learning zone, or as some call it, your growth edge. We learn best when we’re out of our comfort zone with a mild or moderate amount of brain activation. We want to be in our personal sweet spot between comfort and challenge. Sounds simple, but it’s not always easy, especially alone.

This is where coaching can make the difference. Coaching focuses on increasing your awareness in the here and now to maximize your potential and impact. Those who seek out coaching may be in the midst of transition or ready for change. One of my favorite areas to coach is around maximizing growth and impact, either personally or professionally. If this is an area you’re interested in discussing, give me a call.