Build Your Courage If You Want To Be Successful

It’s the summer of 2016.

The world is becoming an increasingly scary place in a very short period.

We are experiencing national and global threats politically, economically, and socially.

We now live in what some refer to as a “fear-based environment”.

Having said that, we don’t have to be paralyzed by fear.

In fact, not only can you survive in this environment, but history has proven that you can thrive in it!

Build Your Courage If You Want To Be Successful

At this prescient moment in our history, Tony Robbins just published his most recent book, “Money: Master The Game”. 

As part of his preparation for this book, he interviewed 50 of the world’s most brilliant business leaders.

We’re talking Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Carl Icahn, Mary Callahan Erdoes, Charles Schwab, Sir John Templeton…well, you get the picture.

We’re talking about the best of the best.

The best are afraid

And guess what virtually all of them confided to him:  that despite their cumulative successes in business, each of them was scared at once time and often more than once throughout their illustrious careers.

Some were scared when they started or became scared along the way.

And even now, they’re still scared at the pinnacles of their success.

That’s right.


Even the brash Steve Jobs was scared when he was first starting and, as it turned out, very scared just before he and Apple changed the world.

He was terrified of being in the public eye, even as early as 1978.

In preparation for this blog, I was reminded of an old video of Jobs.

I went on YouTube and watched his first televised interview.

He was scared.

He said as much.

What impressed me about him was that he didn’t hide his fear.

Instead, he consciously acknowledged his fear.

He even made fun of himself while preparing for the interview.

Most importantly, he also refused to be paralyzed by it.

He seemed to relish the fear.

I thought to myself, “What guts he had!”. 

“That guy is one courageous SOB!”

I couldn’t help but admire him.

Hands down, the biggest determinant of success is Courage.

Courage is what allows us to drive forward and excel in life.

Courage sets us up to grow.

You can have all the ideas, education, training, and experience in the world, but without courage, it’s a much tougher road.

Here are some practical and proven real-world tips that can help you deal with the fear all of us experience when breaking new ground:

1. Admit you’re afraid

Don’t pretend you’re not scared.

Fear is primal.

Fear is human.

Own it.

You’re certainly not alone.

If you’re in a position of leadership, recognizing and understanding fear is pretty much a requirement.

It turns out that we need fear to help us assess risk.

Fear is your friend…so long as you dare to compliment it.

Knowing you are afraid is a great advantage.

It tells you something, as in this quote:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”–  Ambrose Redmoon

2. Make fear and courage your friends

I encourage my clients to make fear their friend.

I know that this may seem counterintuitive.

I get it.

I’m former military and sometimes saw people die.

In almost all instances, they were performing some act of courage.

Just being there was an act of courage.

You needed a healthy dose of fear to increase your chances of survival.

3. Get a “Battle Buddy”

One thing you have to do is realize that there are going to be the inevitable ups and downs in business…or any other aspect of life for that matter.

There are going to be storms in your business.

You need a trusted confidant to help shoulder some of the load.

Trust me on this.

I’ve seen many try to do this alone.

Rare is the individual who goes it completely alone and enjoys sustained success in life.

You’ll need someone, or maybe more than one, to help you tap into your courage.

And, no, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

It’s a sign of real strength and intelligence.

Not a bad combination

That’s one of the many reasons I admire former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He became “America’s Mayor” in the wake of September 11th.

He was also smart enough to surround himself with incredibly smart people and several “battle buddies” that he routinely confided in.

Your battle buddy can be your partner, a colleague at work, or a trusted friend.

4. Look for heroes

They’re probably around you right now.

You may not see them as heroes because sometimes they tend to be quiet and unassuming.  Or not!

Either way, look around you and see if you have anyone or even several people you look up to and say, “I admire their courage.”  

It helps to have role models.

We all need people to mentor and inspire us.

Find courageous people and get to know them.

It will rub off and enhance your ability to be successful in all areas of life.

5. Invite people to challenge you

Demand that they challenge you!

I know this may seem counterintuitive for some, but you must absolutely be courageous enough to invite feedback, and I don’t mean “tolerate” feedback, or listen to others begrudgingly.

I am saying that you need to sincerely invite feedback – even pushback on your ideas.

There are three important reasons you need to do this:

(1) You’re human, and as humans, we all have blind spots.

You have to be courageous enough to acknowledge this.

(2) Displaying your courage also does something else that is vital for any business:  your courage can be contagious.

It can help your team.


Simple.  Your courage helps your team be more involved in the process.

(3) The value of getting them involved is that once you get to your decision point, they will now have “ownership” of the decision.

This is vital because it is likely that you and your team are going to be the ones who will implement the decision.

Smart leaders are courageous.

Be smart.

6. Pull the trigger

On the flip side of asking for feedback is getting to the point in the process when it’s time to pull the trigger: you need to make a decision.

In the face of a pressing issue, it is likely that some decision needs to be made – including not making a decision.

That comes with its potential consequences, positive and/or negative.

If you trust your people and your process, pull the trigger.

Whatever the consequences, you can stand proud.

7. Own the consequences

So you’ve made your decision.

That took guts.

You must be courageous enough to implement your decision and live with the outcome.

Whatever the consequences are, simply own it.

If you screwed up, own it and hold yourself accountable.

Hold your team accountable as well.

Share in the glory.

Share in the pain.

8. Celebrate your courage

No matter the consequences, make it a lifelong habit to always, always celebrate your courage and your team’s!

Doing so is a great advantage because it creates great team morale and cohesion.

9. Keep your courage close

I’d like to offer one more tip for you.

In addition to making fear and courage your friends, you must keep your courage close to you.

Very close.

Many find this simple tip helpful.

Imagine that your courage is in your hand.

Now take the courage that is in your hand and place it in your pocket.

Keep it there, and you’ll always be ready to pull it out whenever you need it.

Dr. Gary Brown, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist in Los Angeles with over 25 years in private practice. As part of his private practice he is passionate about encouraging and mentoring the current and next generation of leadership.
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