Most people don't really understand what courage
is. When I ask them to define it in my workshops on overcoming fear, the answer I often get is "the absence of fear." But this answer isn't accurate.
While there are a few seemingly fearless fighters, most military personnel will admit, when you ask them, that they were afraid much of the time they were in the field. Courage is not the absence of fear; it's action in the face of fear. These brave people risk — and sometimes sacrifice — their lives, but not without fear. They do what has to be done, despite the fear.
Wherever I go, I find professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses or advance their careers. These are people with all of the technical skills they need to be successful, but they're still, somehow, not getting what they want.
Either 1) they don't know how to get it, or 2) they know what they need to do, but they are allowing their fears to hold them back
. Other times, more simply 3) they haven't yet decided to make the change.
If you feel like your practice ought to be growing, but you're just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both, or all three of these factors might be at play. If fear is one of them, understand that it's OK to be afraid when it comes to stepping into sales and marketing and other "dangerous" battlefields.
Admit that you are afraid, but don't respond by backing away.
Ultimately, the fear itself can't hold us back from having what we want and need in our businesses or lives — how we view fear and our learned response to fear are the real threats. We feel the fear factor— the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests — and the little voice in our heads warns us: "It's not OK, back away." And we obey.
When we were children, this response probably saved our lives many times. We'd feel those feelings when we came too close to a hot stove or stepped into the street. But as adults, if we so much as think of picking up the phone to make that prospecting call
, or attending a networking event, or making a presentation, our "back away" response keeps us from doing what we need to do.
The good news is that if we learned this response at some point, we can also unlearn it and replace it with something better. If you can get past the fear on your own, do it. If you can't, decide to hire someone who can help you to take a step in the right direction and back onto the playing field.