“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
— Anais Nin
I’ve asked hundreds of entrepreneurs if they’d like more courage at least sometimes, if they’d like more confidence at least sometimes and if they have fears that sometimes hold them back. One-hundred percent replied yes.
I’ve been asking individual clients and audiences this question for years, and the answer is always the same. And it’s not just entrepreneurs who want more courage and confidence. I recently spoke to an audience of about 150 people working in various fields, and 100 percent answered yes to both of the above questions. Most everyone wants more courage and confidence in at least some situations!
Relationship Among Courage, Confidence and Fear
© TC North, Ph.D., 2015
How are courage, confidence and fear related? When you have a lot of fear, you need great courage to take on what’s causing the fear. However, when you have a high level of confidence in doing something specific, your fear is generally low.
When you make a decision or tackle a task that’s risky, you’ll likely have a fear of failure, embarrassment or hurt. The bigger the challenge and the greater the risk, the more fear you’ll likely experience and the greater courage you’ll need. There are many ways to reduce fear of a situation or challenge, and one is to become more confident in taking it on.
As you increase situation-specific confidence, you decrease fear and need less courage.
Each time you’re successful at a challenge, you develop more confidence. Your fear decreases, and you need less courage. Courage and confidence are two ends of a continuum. Here’s an example of the courage-to-confidence continuum in my life:
When I was in my 20s, I was an exercise physiologist in a wellness clinic. Robert, the clinic physician, asked, “Would you like to give a talk on aerobic exercise at a local running store?” Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m shy and introverted, so my response was, “No! I don’t do public speaking!”
Robert, who turned out to be one of my great life teachers, then said in a deep, authoritative voice, “If you want to be your best, I recommend you take this speaking engagement and all the others offered to you, and then create some more.” A wave of terror rippled through my body, and I got ready to run out the door. But I didn’t because the intuitive part of me, the quiet awareness in the pit of my stomach, knew he was right. I accepted the engagement.
It took all the courage I had, but I showed up at the running store to speak to my enormous audience of … six people. I literally couldn’t stand because my legs were shaking (along with the rest of my body). I sat in a chair and read my presentation word for word off a yellow pad of paper.
It was a horrible presentation! When I left, I sat in my car and reflected on everything. After a few moments, I threw back my head, thrust my fists into the air and yelled, “That was glorious!” I was ecstatic. Why? Because I hadn’t died. Every day for weeks leading up to speaking at the running store, my irrational fear was if I present, I’ll die. But I didn’t! That became a defining moment in my life; I no longer held that irrational belief about the danger of speaking.
That’s how illogical our mind can be and why it’s important to identify irrational fears and learn to control them. More than 30 years later, I’ve delivered hundreds of presentations in the U.S. and internationally. I still have a fear of speaking, but I’ve mastered it: I’m in control of my fear of public speaking; it’s not in control of me. I’m now a confident speaker and love engaging with an audience.
If you examine your life, most likely you’ll find parts where you’ve had the courage to take on some scary stuff. Each time you engage in a situation that scares you — and you learn from it to be better the next time — you’re using your courage to become confident. You’re mastering your fear.
That’s how you develop confidence with courage!
TC North, Ph.D., is co-author of the best-selling book on Amazon, “Fearless Leaders.” He’s a high-performance executive and leadership coach and a thought leader on increasing courage, confidence and mastering fear, which enhance personal presence and the ability to be mindful. A sought-after international speaker and a published scientist, one of his studies has been designated a landmark study, because it created a new paradigm of our understanding of human emotion. Learn more at www.TCNorth.com. Contact Dr. North at 303-665-8920 or connect on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter.