Fear, lack of confidence, risk aversion are fairly common themes among those feeling “stuck” or worse yet “trapped” in their current career.  I often hear people wanting a change but not knowing where to start.  I also hear individuals falling “victim” to their circumstances.

It’s not so important that you know what your end game is, you know what your goals are or your path is all laid out.  What is important is to take action – no matter how small an action to get yourself moving forward.  Following are some tips to start the process.

Tip 1:  You’re in charge.  So many people give others power over their lives.  These are people who live regularly with the word “should”.  Anytime a “should” shows up, it’s an indication that you’re listening to someone else.  You’ll know your in charge when “should” is replaced by “I will” or “I won’t”.

Tip 2:  20 seconds.  From the movie “I Bought a Zoo” you only have to be courageous for 20 seconds.  This happens for me when I don’t think and analyze too much about something.  In other words, I act on gut instinct – I just know it’s the right thing to do.  That’s how I got my first CEO position – I said – out loud to the right person – “I want to be CEO”.

Tip 3:  You’re not alone.  Many times I hear people observe that others act so confidently and seem to know what they are doing.  What you don’t see, is they may be as nervous about trying something new as you are – you just don’t notice it.  Feel the nerves and act anyway.  You don’t have much to lose.

Tip 4:  Embarrassment.  Some people say they don’t take action because they don’t want to embarrass themselves.  I will let you in on a reality, if you fail, very few will notice.  Those that do notice, will not care.  Embarrassment can be deep seated in growing up – when other kids made fun of us attempting something new.  Adults don’t do that, they don’t have the time or energy to spend time judging you.

Tip 5:  Let go.  I’ve met people who use fear, lack of confidence and risk aversion as a safety blanket.  Their self image is that they are timid, don’t want to make waves – they’re just not like those risk takers.  It is an excuse not to take action, yet they still struggle and complain about their lot in life.  No excuses, you’re all grown up, nothing will happen unless you do take action.

Tip 6:  Self image.  Your self image is just that, your image of yourself.  You are in charge and can create any self image you want.  Think about children playing, they can be super heros with super powers at a moment’s notice.  They can do anything and be anything they want.  Start with what you want to be, believe it and work backward to get it.

Tip 7:  You’re not that important.  Sometimes when trying something new we feel somehow, everyone is watching us – which only heightens our fears and reluctance.  Another secret – very few are taking notice.  We are only important to a very few and those are people who love us.  If someone loves you, they will support and encourage you to try new things.

What’s been your experience?  What works for you?  Anything holding you back?  Please leave a comment below.

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4 Responses to Courage

  • Fred Patterson says:

    Long ago when I was in B school, one of my professors said everyone should try to put himself out of a job and should expect to be fired once within his first ten years of professional experience. He was saying one should teach his job skills to his subordinates so he is available to accept a new and challenging job when it comes along and not be passed over because he is too valuable where he is. The second point is if one is proactive and making aggressive decisions to help the company, he will eventually mess up enough to be fired. I would not suggest someone act recklessly to get fired, but I have followed those two suggestions over my career and things have worked out really well. Fortunately for me my occasional miscues have not resulted in a pink slip yet.

    It does take some self confidence to follow this advice.

    • Holly says:

      Fred –

      Great advice! Love the idea of opening yourself up to new opportunities by teaching everything you know. Also, going out on a limb and taking a risk – pays off more times than not. Thanks for the comments – good words to live by.


  • Kevin Lewis says:

    Holly, this is great advice. Many people are in mental prisons for the reasons you have cited. They will only get out when they let themselves out. They have the key to the courage they need. A little action with focused direction will get them on their way.

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