If you ask me what the number one ingredient to success is, I wouldn’t tell you it’s determination, drive or even hard work. Don’t get me wrong – those are all extremely important and fundamental factors that pave the way to success.
Determination, or grit, gets you through the rough times and keeps you on you track when things get hard. Drive is the hunger you feel towards your end goal. Hard work is the element that keeps you drumming night and day when your competitors are sleeping.
However, there’s one ingredient that I feel trumps all others. What is it? It’s courage. If you’re a reader of my blog, you’re probably aware that I harp on about courage all the time. Although I understand it’s importance now, it’s not something that I really understood or embraced till later on in my fight career.
So, what is courage and how can we truly harness it in order to reach successful outcomes?
What is courage
As I’ve highlighted in previous posts, my definition of courage isn’t facing a challenge without fear, but facing a challenge despite being afraid.
When it comes to living from courage, you’re making a choice – either you let your fears take over you and you move back to a comfortable space, or you face your fears head-on and work through the task ahead.
Courage to me is not living comfortably, which would be the total opposite of living with courage. Rather, it is living a life where you often do things that scare you. I’ve found the more you live this way, the more you find success.
I’ve done a lot of things that have scared me. Travel abroad to fight, fought bigger and better opponents, quit my job – all things that generated a sense of fear within, but brought me success and taught me something valuable in the process.
But courage isn’t just about working through fear. Sometimes it’s about working through other emotions. For example, let’s say you have a goal of getting fit and part of that goal is running every morning. You decide to set your alarm for 6am everyday so you can get an early run in before work. Morning comes and the alarm goes off, but you discover it’s cold as ice and pouring rain outside. In this moment, all you want to do is hit the snooze button and snuggle back into your warm sheets. Do you listen to your brain and go back to your comfortable space of fluffy warm pillows and marshmallow dreams? Or, do you have the courage to get out of bed and face the cold and wet head on?
Choosing the warm bed will be comfortable and seem like a valuable choice in that moment, but you would have wasted precious time doing something that’s not conducive to your goal of getting fit. However, if you live with courage and choose the hard road of running in the cold, miserable wet, you would have spent valuable time towards your goal. Consequently, living from courage and going for that run equals a step closer to where you want to be.
Living from courage
It has taken me a while to learn how to live from a place of courage. I sometimes fall off the wagon and think I am living courageously, when in actual fact I’m living from a place of comfort. When I come to that realisation, I know I have to get myself back on track.
It can sometimes be a hard thing to keep on top of, because your brain is good at talking you out of things that bring a feeling of discomfort. But I know when I need to tap into courage, and that’s when I either feel afraid to do something or the thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable.
That uncomfortable feeling is crucial – it’s when you know you’re on the right path. When I work through an uncomfortable situation, I feel a great sense of pride and achievement. It’s like the rush you feel after you get off a scary carnival ride. It’s the idea that overcoming something deemed previously impossible is actually possible, and when you prove that to yourself you know you’re capable of anything.
How you can harness courage
The best way to harness courage in day-to-day life is to start now! Don’t wait! Call that boy or girl that you’ve had a crush on. Apply for that job you thought was above your expertise. Ask for a pay rise. Do the things that you’ve always wanted to do but been too afraid to – I dare you!
And when your brain starts telling you not to because you’re too afraid, just think of how different your life would have been if you didn’t live from fear. Could you have gone places? Would you still be where you’re living? Would you be more successful?
Live from courage every day
If you really want to live from a place of courage, it needs to be practiced daily. Don’t just do one courageous thing and think “That’s me, I’m done for a good year or two”. You’re selling yourself short when you do that.
Look for something weekly that makes you feel uncomfortable, like taking up a sport that you were never good at, or joining Toastmasters even though you’re extremely shy. Although these things may be uncomfortable at first, you learn to make them comfortable. In the process you create a great sense of achievement in yourself when you overcome your fears, and relish in the rewards (i.e. gaining confidence).
Staying on track
Keep tabs on your progress by writing a list of things that you think will get you out of your comfort zone, and tick them off as you go. Keep note of what you’re doing along the way and make sure you keep to your task list.
If you’re not sure whether you’re living from courage, ask yourself “Do I feel afraid about the task ahead of me, and does it make me feel uncomfortable?”. If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, and instead comfortable, then chances are you’re not living from courage at all.
Don’t get it twisted though. Make sure that your courageous living is within reason. Don’t go out there with the aim of doing something dangerous to yourself or others, and/or unethical. Your pathway of courage, and the goals you set out for yourself, should make your life better and should generate positive outcomes.
Living uncomfortably leads to more in life. It may seem like a strange notion, but you soon find that it opens up options and opportunities. You may be afraid to ask your boss for a pay rise for example, but if you ask for it and you get it, the outcome is better than your prior situation of living with less money. In order to get what you want in life you need some form of courage to get you there.
It’s something I’ve adopted and can vouch for. I sometimes forget to practice this life principle daily, but I do my best to push myself to those uncomfortable places over and over again.
Have you ever done something that scared you, but has lead to a successful outcome? I want to know, so leave something in the comment box below.