Courage is a muscle - use it!

Q. There are many people I admire in my career, but I think they were all born with a whole lot more courage than I was. I know they had to risk failing or looking foolish or being disappointed. Do you think that some people just start out with more self-confidence? How can I compete with people who are simply born braver than I was?

A. You can compete with people who were born braver than you were by recognizing that no one is born with amazing self-confidence. Courage is a habit and not an inborn trait.

Starting with a college application, an internship or a job interview, we all need to muster the ability to be rejected or fail if we want to succeed. People who appear to have more courage have merely accepted the reality that achievement demands risks.

Obviously, there are some foolish, not hardy, souls who would jump off any cliff without a parachute just to prove they are brave. Taking risks without preparation is simply stupid not courageous.

Wiser souls figure out what they need to pack to go on a journey they dream to achieve. They realize that in order to end up anywhere worth being, they will feel really uncomfortable repeatedly. And then they begin their adventure.

People who end up feeling bitter at the end of their careers think others were luckier, but that is inaccurate. The world ends up seeing the one success that a person achieves. What the world tends not to pay attention to are the hundred mistakes, disappointments and setbacks that preceded that one visible success.

If you'd like to emulate those people you admire, make a list of what scares you. Are you intimidated by failure, embarrassment or looking stupid? Be aware that this feeling should be a beacon guiding you toward your richest career choices.

When successful people look backward, they often report that intense adversities made them stop worrying about looking good. Public and very upsetting failures can actually help resilient people give up looking for approval or understanding. Instead, successful people seek effectiveness and results.

Success paradoxically turns out to be far easier for people who aim for an interesting, rich career than for people who need to prove how good they are. When we are struggling to show others how good we are, we make decisions about pleasing others rather than pleasing ourselves.

Remember that real success is when your inner longings line up with your outer achievements. Some of your bravest achievements in your career will be going after what you want even when your workplace may make that goal scary or difficult to pursue.

Instead of worrying that you are hopelessly outstripped by people with more genetic courage, decide to do one thing that scares you at work every day. Before you know it you'll grow into one of those very people you now admire.

The last word(s)

Q. I'm going after my first job. Is there any one thing I can do that will set me apart from others going for that initial position in my field?

A. Yes, be on time and do what you say you will do. Reliability is an immediate turn-on for any employer!

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)


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