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5 Steps to a More Courageous You

Live Happy blogger, best-selling author and workplace wellbeing coach Michelle McQuaid presents this series of interviews entitled "Show Up, Shine and Succeed." This is the second of five insightful, informative posts. Each podcast/interview features a different positive psychology expert, all speaking on topics related to happiness, confidence and success in the workplace.

At work, are you more driven by what inspires you or what scares you? 

Margie Warrell, best-selling author and coach, puts it this way: “ ‘For the sake of what?’ are you willing to speak up at work, transition your career, start a new business or take on a big job?” All of these things involve risk; what would motivate you to take on that kind of risk? Once you identify that, you can find the courage to make those changes.

Fear keeps us small and stuck in jobs that don’t fulfill us, but make us feel safe. But is there really anything safe about living a life in which you feel disengaged, disillusioned or desperate to be doing something else?

“In order for you to get outside your comfort zone and stop playing small and safe, you need to have a clear purpose,” said Margie, when I interviewed her recently.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

“Courage isn’t the absence of fear,” explains Margie. “Rather, courage is action in the presence of our fears and self-doubts.”

When we act by starting with small steps over time, we become more courageous. Our fears don’t run our lives, and we’re much more driven by what inspires us than by what scares us.

However, we tend to overestimate the probability that something will go wrong and underestimate our ability to handle the consequences of risk. These factors drive us to avoid the actions we really need to take—not stick ourselves out there and speak up.

‘For the sake of what?’

There is a big difference between being well off and having wellbeing. It’s easy to mislead ourselves that if we just had the success we wanted, it would be simple to develop our strengths—to show up and shine in ways that truly matter.

But that actually works in reverse. Only when you can answer “for the sake of what” clearly will you be willing to put yourself at risk, truly courageous and as purposeful and successful as you can be.

According to Margie, taking the following steps will help you to stop playing safe and find the courage to do what really matters to you at work:

1. Be aware of your impact

Become aware of the impact you have on others simply by the spirit you bring to what you do. You may not be living out your greatest passion each day. But if you bring a spirit of engagement to what you do, you show others that what you do each day matters.

2. Understand what drives you​

Why would you bother to speak up at work, start a new career or take on a new job? What would it take for you to risk leaving your comfort zone? Once you identify that “why,” you will have the clear-eyed determination to go for it.  

3. Find your purpose

Discover the intersection of your talents, passions, values and skills so that what you do every day is meaningful. There may be things you are passionate about, but you might lack relevant skill at the moment. Or there may not be an opportunity—or perhaps if you pursued this passion as a vocation, it might compromise the family stability you value.

Purpose is rarely about all or nothing. Rather, it’s about finding an intersection between what you’re good at and care about with value and need in the marketplace. That intersection creates opportunities to combine them.

4. Cultivate a courage mindset

Embrace the discomfort that comes with feeling vulnerable by doing things that expose you to failure. As you become more certain what you want to do with your life, don’t start by taking on Mount Everest. Courage builds, so start where you are and do something today that stretches you. When you encounter setbacks, pick yourself up and figure out what the next step should be. It's also important to surround yourself with others who are courageous, conscious and committed—people who lift you up instead of pull you down.

5. Tame your inner critic

We all have a voice inside our head that say, “Who are you to do that? You’re not good enough. What will people say if you fail?” Try saying, “Thank you very much. I know you’re trying to protect me … Now be quiet, I’m going to take this risk anyway.”

Find more practical strategies to help implement these ideas in Margie’s best-selling book Stop Playing Safe and at margiewarrell.com.

And if you’d like more tested, practical ways to show up, shine and succeed at work visit showupshineandsucceed.com.

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