When people would hear that I had left family and friends in Jamaica to move back to London (ages ago), they would say how brave that was. I’ve never really looked at it that way and at various points along the way I would have called it something else.
At the forefront of my mind, at that time, was the fear of being stagnant in my career, or not progressing toward anything. I couldn’t see a future that would be interesting or exciting – it felt like I would remain the same. I have since realised that I also get bored easily, which probably added to it all. The time spent in the hospitality industry in Jamaica was amazing and I learned a lot, however I knew I’d reached the point where I had to change; so if this was bravery, I was ready.
Bravery and courage are hot topics with many at the moment and it is important that we pay attention and adapt some of what is being shared. I believe we all have the capacity to act on what we think is impossible or difficult. Thinking on my big move, I wondered what drives us to step up, act beyond our fears and be brave? I know it will be different for everyone, but these resonate with me:
- The prospect of what will or won’t happen if we do nothing
- The determination to overcome a challenge
- A sense of responsibility
- Passion to make an impact
- A desire to change or see change
- Protecting something or someone we care about
- A desire to experience something new or overcome an obstacle preventing you from moving forward.
There are many more I could include, but the point is sometimes understanding ‘why’ is the first step towards being brave, having courage or being confident.
What I did all those years ago wasn’t easy – it took a lot of energy to take the risk and resign from my job, book the ticket and make all the preparations to go. I believe a couple of the attributes needed to be brave are to be definite and intentional. I was convinced this was the right thing to do and doubt anyone or anything could have changed my mind.
To help us to be definite and intentional, and to support following through on being brave, here are a few thoughts and ideas based on my own experience:
Stop comparisons and shut down negative chatter
There is always a pressure for us to perform – to be as good as, or better than colleagues, peers or even family members. We compare ourselves to others, which is always a strategy that will break confidence and kill courage. It is important to remember that we can’t face someone else’s fear or challenge – we have to face our own and in our own way. A practical thing I do is to walk away – shut down the noise or negative thoughts etc., and get around some trees to think. Space allows us to get perspective.
Be guided by your values to make good decisions
Living our values by acting on what’s important to us as individuals enables us to be definite and intentional. By being true to our beliefs, we will naturally come across as confident, when we uphold personal values, we begin to make better choices – the ones we can stand by. Oftentimes the reason why we hesitate to act bravely is that we doubt that we will get it right. Before we bale out, remember – the direction or decision taken might not be right for everyone else, but if we are guided by our values, it will be right for us.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs
Don’t be put off when it’s hard – don’t give up!
Understand that things don’t always work out. When I first arrived back in the UK I thought that things would come together because I had a plan. It didn’t work out the way I’d planned it at all. Things were harder than I thought, at the time I was lacking UK work experience, despite having a good knowledge and experience of the industry. Being resilient meant digging deep and deciding that despite the challenges it was time to reset and plan, rather than be overcome by disappointment. Thinking back, it’s one of the things that led to a change of career to work in the communication industry.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really
stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself…” Eleanor Roosevelt
Don’t forget to remember
The other day someone played back to me something I’d done and I was surprised that I had totally forgotten that I’d stepped out in that way. It made me think how important it is to think about and remember the times when we have done something that would be considered brave, courageous or confident. Remembering actually encouraged me that I could be brave again.
I’ve since done other things that would be considered as being brave, like starting a business, but more recently, I was coerced to walk over the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver. This is something I would never normally do. Even though my friends were encouraging me – something was also going on inside – I actually wanted to overcome the fear, be brave and cross that bridge. Needless to say, I did it and I’m still here, enjoying the feeling that comes when you work through something that’s really scary and complete it.