Courage: The Confidence to Master Your Fears

Courage is the confidence to do what you know you need to do, it’s doing the right thing. Courage is acting despite your fears. Confidence, or courage, is what helps you live the life you feel is best for you.

Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles from a synthesized coaching session, pulled from myriad coaching sessions I’ve conducted. If you’re new to this series, start at the beginning and follow us on the path to a higher-performance life, through a typical client’s experience. If you are interested in receiving your own “Focus Session”, access the intake form.

Kit: You marked that your Courage was a six out of ten. Is it still at that number? How do you feel about that?
Client: It was a weak six when I answered the questionnaire, and it’s a strong six today. I guess I’m not ok with that since I’d like to have more courage and be more confident. Part of my problem with this question is that I don’t really like the word Courage. I think I have plenty of courage, I just get shy sometimes and lack confidence.
Ok. If we talk about Confidence then, would that help you in this discussion?
Yeah, I think it would.
Alright. Let’s talk about Confidence.

Do you feel you are speak up for what you want, your ideas, and for yourself?
That’s an interesting set of questions. It depends. Great answer, right?! When I’m comfortable with people and the situation I do speak up for myself and express my ideas quite comfortably. But the moment I’m uncomfortable I back down from expressing anything. I’m afraid of rocking the boat and of what people will think or say. It’s important to me to avoid conflict, so I stay silent — too much of the time. I feel resentful when I don’t speak up, though that’s my fault. Nobody is shutting me down, nobody but me.

In what areas of your life would you like to be bolder?
I don’t know. Well, I guess I’d like to be bolder in new situations and share my ideas with conviction. And at work I’d like to propose new projects, ideas I know would benefit the company and that I’d be great at helping with. I’d like to embrace my everyday life!

To feel more confident and more courageous in your life, what negative beliefs would you have to stop having?
That I’m not good enough, smart enough, capable enough.
Enough for whom?
Everyone I interact with. I know that’s crazy, but I just feel inferior to others. I’m not as good looking as other people. My extra weight doesn’t help either. I just need to quit worrying about what people say about me and my work.
Well, you have the right attitude when you recognize you have to quit worrying about what people think or say about you. I think that’s a great start to getting past the inferiority feeling you have.
I’ve never thought about this question before and think I’ll have to give it more thought still. I bet there are other negative thoughts I can give up.

Since I think this topic of Confidence is a two-sided coin, let me ask you the flip-side of the coin. What positive beliefs would you have to adopt or amplify to boost your confidence?
I am a smart and pretty woman. My ideas are great and the world deserves to hear them. I’m good at anything I set my mind to doing.
How does it feel when you say those things?
Pretty good. I think if I repeat those beliefs with more conviction I’ll feel even better.

What one thing can you do to increase your courage one degree?
I can look myself in the mirror every morning and repeat those beliefs with emotion and conviction.
Good! What would happen if you did that more than once a day?
Oh! I could do that, couldn’t I! If I did that morning, noon, and night I’d feel incredible!
Good nudge. Ok. At least three times a day I’ll give myself a pep talk.

I have a High Performance Habit to teach you. Please stand up. Get centered and grounded. Feel strong. Stand tall. Imagine being your bestest, strongest, most confident self.
Now, imagine that standing beside you is your most courageous self. She’s not only standing beside you, she’s talking to you, coaching you. She’s your future you. She’s your Superhero. I refer to your Superhero as a her because my clients generally create Superheros of the same gender they are. You can have a male, if you want, though.
Is there someone specific you have been avoiding a difficult conversation with? Maybe someone you haven’t been totally honest with, or shared something you feel you should have? Is there someone you haven’t forgiven? If you have someone who fits any of those scenarios, this is a good time having that conversation with them, with your Superhero at your side and coaching you. What would your Superhero coach you to say? You don’t have to share with me what you are thinking and your Superhero is saying, but do have that conversation in your head.

How does that feel? Is that a conversation you can have for real now?
That feels really good! Powerful. Yes, I can have that conversation, and several more. I can approach people at work. I think I’ll call my mom too. And, for what it’s worth, my Superhero is a woman. She looks a lot like me!

Sounds like your Superhero is going to be a good partner for you! Part of having Confidence and Courage in your life, or being a courageous person, means having those tough conversations and forgiving people. Sooner is better than later too. You already said that you would approach one or two people with your Superhero at your side, but I’d like to ask if you’ll commit to doing that this week.
Yes. I was thinking I’d wait until Friday afternoon so that if it didn’t go well, but as soon as that thought came into my mind, my Superhero kicked me in the butt. I guess that means I’ll do it immediately. I’ll call Mom when we are done here, and I’ll approach that coworker tomorrow at coffee break.
Oh, I do like your Superhero! I’m glad to hear that the two of you are committed to working together to build your confidence and to live life on your terms.
Yeah, that feels good. Question, please. You twice said something about forgiving people. What’s that got to do with confidence, or courage even?
Oh, everything! Talking about forgiveness is a huge topic in itself, and something we can discuss another time. But, to keep us more in time today I’ll confine my answer to this shorter reply. Forgiveness is the unwillingness to let go of hurt, shame, or fear that an interaction with another caused you. It’s easy to blame others for those feelings, but you are the only one who has control of your feelings. Take back your power and forgive. It doesn’t matter what happened. You only hurt yourself by holding onto those negative feelings, blaming them, and not forgiving them. I’m sure you’ve heard that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill the other person. You’re the only one who gets hurt. If the topic interests you, Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of South Africa, wrote a book called No Future Without Forgiveness. He addresses the concept of Ubuntu and how Africans recognize that all people are connected and what you do to another you do to yourself as well. That concept is important for South Africa to heal from all the damage done by apartheid.
Yes, the topic does interest me. I’ll read the book so we can talk about the concepts more another time.
I’ll look forward to that. It’s not a concept everyone can accept easily. My book club read it but couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of forgiving someone who had raped you, or killed your family or friends. Many commented that some people don’t deserve forgiveness. I’ve worked long and hard at it, and still don’t succeed all the time myself — it’s hard when that’s not how you were raised nor are surrounded by people who subscribe to forgiveness. When I find myself still being bitter about something I shake my head at myself and start working on forgiving the person involved in the situation I’m hurting about still. I start working on forgiving myself. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. It did more for my understanding of forgiveness than any psychology books did. In fact, I found myself rejecting some of the lessons in the psychology books because they let people off the hook with the idea that some things can’t be forgiven. My meditation practice has gone a long way in helping me with forgiveness too.
It’s an interesting topic. I’ll bring it up again later.

Alright, so back to Confidence and your Superhero. When you are faced with a difficult conversation, situation, or decision, imagine your Superhero coaching you through it for a super win. Ok?
Clever of you to stretch my Superhero’s coaching from overcoming fear to overcoming any difficulty I might face. I think that’s a great idea. She and I will become great friends, though I worry that as my confidence grows my need for her will shrink. It’ll be like losing a friend.
Your Superhero will always be there for you, even if you don’t call on her strength very often. You have friends like that I’m sure.
Yes, I do. Good point. What other surprises do you have for me on this topic?
None — today anyway! And we need to pick up the pace if we are going to stick even close to an hour appointment.


Let’s talk about Productivity next.

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