When you’re staring into an unknown void and fear and doubt grip your mind, finding the strength to push through and challenge your limitations is tough.
But just because something is tough, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Your ability to summon the courage to live your life on your terms isn’t a God-given gift or hard-coded into your genes. It’s a skill. And like any skill, it can be developed. All you need to do to find the courage to step into the darkness and take control of your life is a simple understanding of the foundations of courage and how to apply them in your life.
What is Courage?
The best definition I’ve ever heard of courage is:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to overcome it.
This definition is critical to understand. Someone who is courageous isn’t just running around sticking their head into all kinds of dangerous situations without any care or consideration for the challenges that lie ahead. That’s not courage. That’s recklessness. Courage is different.
Being courageous means being fully aware of the challenges and dangers ahead, feeling the fear associated with those challenges and dangers, and having the determination and drive to push through that fear and tackle them head-on.
That’s courage. It’s not ignorance of dangers you’re about to face, it’s the full and conscious awareness of those dangers overcome with the commitment to push through.
How to have courage
Most well-intentioned information about the path to being more courageous overlook one simple fact about human nature that’s critical to becoming more courageous: humans are inherently selfish. You do things because of what you get out of them. If you’re taking action, it’s because the reward is significantly higher than the costs to a point where you’re motivated to take action. If you’re not taking action, the costs are too high and the rewards are too low. That’s the basic foundation of motivation in any area of your life and is particularly important for developing courage.
If you can’t find the courage to take action, it’s because the potential costs are too high and the potential rewards too low. You perceive that the potential costs (including personal physical and emotional injury) significantly outweigh the potential benefits.
- The potential costs of confronting your rude co-worker are higher than the potential benefits of having them treat you with respect
- The potential costs of asking that cute cashier out are higher than the potential benefits of landing a date
- The potential costs of getting your flabby arse to the gym are higher than the potential benefits of getting into shape
You’re an inherently selfish creature whose sole motivation is personal benefit and if you can’t summon the courage to tackle your life’s challenges, it’s because you can’t see the benefit in doing so.
This means the simple way to become more courageous is: increase the reward for being courageous.
When you can clearly see the potential benefits FAR outweigh the potential risks, you’ll take the action. When it’s worth it, you’ll be willing to push through your fears and doubts and do what you know you should. It’s that simple.
Think about it. If I asked you to jump to a 15m cliff jump into the ocean and I promised you $1 in return for doing it, would you do it? Maybe, if you’re that-way inclined, but I’m guessing that most people would say “No thanks, you can keep your dollar.”
How would that change if I offered you more? What if I offered you $10? Does that get you excited to plunge head-first into the murky unknown? Or $100? Or even $1,000? Would that help you find the strength to push through the obvious dangers and challenges?
What if I told you that I’d pay you $500,000 every year for the next 30 years? How would that change things? If I told you that you’d never have to work again and could spend the rest of your life following your passions and dreams doing whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, with whoever you wanted, would you do it? I’d be surprised if anyone said ‘No’ to this.
This is the secret to having courage: finding a reward that makes it worth it. When you can clearly see the massive and disproportionately large payoff for challenging your fears and doubts, courage is just a natural by-product
The Ultimate Payoff
If you just need a big payoff at the end to find the courage to live your life on your terms, the question is: what is that payoff?
Finding someone to promise you $500,000 year for the next 30 years to take a leap of faith is going to be tough. There aren’t many people who’re cashed up enough to do this and even if you happen to know a few, why would they? But, the good news for you is that you don’t need someone else to promise you this glorious bounty. You can simply promise it to yourself.
And not just $500,000/year, you can have a lifestyle that goes with it. You can have a life where you do exciting things with inspiring and motivating people and have a rich, rewarding, and fulfilling time doing so. You can live the dream. You can have a life worth risking.
A life worth risking is a vision so inspiring and exciting that it motivates and drives you through your fears and doubts because you know the ultimate reward at the end of the road will be worth it. You know that if you continue on this path of
This is how you have courage: create a vision of a life so remarkable that it motivates you to challenge your limitations every day.
You don’t sit around waiting for someone to offer you $500,000, you create a life vision and plan that will give you $500,000 regardless of what anyone else offers you.
How to create an Inspiring life vision
The process of creating a vision of your future that’s so inspiring and exciting that it makes you want to push through the barriers and challenges and fear and transform your life is simple and straight-forward.
Rather than cover it again here, here’s the article that walks you through the entire process: How to create a complete and compelling life vision
It’ll give you the 3-step breakdown as well as instructions on how to dive deeper if you’re struggling.
So, don’t waste your life stuck behind fear. Find the drive and determination and courage to push through your fear and move towards your life vision.