C is for Courage
This post is part of our blog series, The A to Z of Being Babyproof, a celebration of the attitudes and behaviours it takes to balance career and family – because “babyproof” is not a destination, it’s a blueprint for having it all and making it work.
We’re feeling all gladiatorial on the blog this month and have been looking at how courage is important for achieving our career and family goals. If you still find yourself sitting firmly in the lily-livered camp however, perhaps you’re buying in to some of these common misconceptions about what it means to be brave.
- Courage is about being fearless.
No! It’s not about being the archetypal adrenalin junkie who loves to skydive and bungee jump off bridges. If you’re the sort of person who pursues dangerous sports and embraces the heady feeling of adrenalin, you probably don’t actually need courage. Courage is the attribute that allows the less thrill-seeking types amongst us to confront our inner demons and overcome our deepest fears. It enables us to act on our beliefs and ambitions, even when we fear the outcome and may really feel like running away.
- Either you have it or you don’t
Perhaps you don’t see yourself as a particularly brave person and know others who to you seem naturally bold. But courage is a skill that can be learned and there are techniques that can be practised. For example, not all firefighters have the same temperament – but all are required to confront dangerous situations as part of their job. They are trained to cope with frightening events and practise these skills regularly. It doesn’t mean they do not feel afraid – but they can use rehearsed techniques to access courage so that they can get on with the work they have to do. Read my blog with tips to help you tap into your own reserves of courage here.
- You can’t fake it
You can! ‘Pretending’ to be bold and visualising yourself performing courageous acts is a great way to start being brave. Think of elite athletes who visualise their races or actors who have to overcome severe stage fright. Thinking yourself courageous is the first step towards being courageous. The more you do it – the closer to a reality it will become.
- That courage is the same as confidence
Although the words are often used interchangeably, they are markedly different attributes and arguably courage is the more important of the two. Confidence implies certainty; a willingness to act when we are completely sure of an outcome or our abilities. It is of course a great attribute to have – especially in career terms, as it means you present yourself well and will be seen as capable and influential. But confidence comes with good experience and practice. To take that first step into the unknown requires courage. Unless you have the courage to try something new, and risk failure or making mistakes, you cannot build the experience required to gain confidence. So if you want to be confident, first you will need to show courage. Have a look at my blog on other reasons to be courageous here.
- That only heroic acts are courageous acts
Who do you think is courageous? Perhaps a firefighter, or someone who has risked their life to save others? Of course – these types of people have demonstrated extraordinary courage through their acts of heroism, but ‘ordinary’ courage should not be overlooked either. It’s being able to tap in to ordinary courage that can give you the strength to ask for flexible working for example or be the first woman in your office to return to work after maternity leave. Learning how to employ courage might just be the difference between making a success of your work-life balance and the whole thing derailing. So it’s worth the effort! Take a deep breath, give it a go and unleash your inner gladiator.. (You can read my blog on the gladiator speech here).
You can gain a lot of courage with help and support from others so start by joining our Linkedin or Facebook groups to chat with likeminded ambitious career women. You can also register here for information about our Babyproof Your Career online course, coming soon.
Caroline Flanagan is a Keynote Speaker, Babyproof Coach and Author of Babyproof Your Career, The Secret to Balancing Work and Family so you can Enjoy It All. Caroline believes passionately in the dream of having it all, and founded Babyproof Your Life to train and prepare ambitious career women for the marathon of working parenthood so they can find their own way to #enjoyitall and #makeitwork. You can reach Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org