Sometimes instead of waiting to feel confident, you can simply choose to be brave explains Carol Schulte

At the BRĀV Institute we define bravery as the willingness to get into action long before you feel ready.

So, where does it come from and how do you build it?

Some fascinating research exists on the fact women and men’s brains are wired differently, we produce different hormones, and we each have an individual genetic make-up – and all of these impact how confident we are naturally.

There are also thoughts and behaviours that are learned through our experiences, upbringing, and society.

And then there are ‘bravery killers’. And we need to talk about them, because I see them come up not only for so many of the administrative professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with, I see them rearing their ugly head in my life and work, too.

And it’s time to stop them!

1. Perfectionism 

Women tend to wait until there is very little likelihood of failure before taking action.

We also tend to over-prepare.  In wanting to ensure we get things right, we look good, and we avoid looking bad.

We want to be perfect, appear perfect, and perform perfectly, all too often. And because it’s an ideal that doesn’t exist, we often feel bad about ourselves when we fall short.

Or, because want to get it right, right out of the gates, sometimes it causes perfectionist paralysis. And then we don’t put ourselves out there at all.

2. People-Pleasing

I’m sure you and I can both relate to this one!

Now in our defence, women have a more active hippocampus in our brains than men do, and so are more wired for connection and empathy. While this can be looked at as a good thing, we also have to be careful. It’s a proven fact that women are more interested in being liked than being respected, and as a result we often care far too much about what people think.

At times our behaviours are more motivated by not wanting to ruffle any feathers, or by wanting to be liked, instead of doing what is right for us.

3. Procrastination and/or P-a-u-s-i-n-g

Sometimes tied to perfectionism, the idea here is we often spend far too much time thinking and analysing. We live in what Dr. Seuss refers to as ‘The Waiting Place’. Waiting to feel ready, waiting to feel good enough, waiting for the perfect moment to magically arrive before taking that first or next step.

We hesitate. We pause. We ruminate. We procrastinate.

And when we get too caught up in our heads, we tend to imagine worse-case scenarios, listen to the negative voices in our heads that tell us we can’t, or that our idea will never work.

And when that happens, the likelihood of us taking any action at all drastically diminishes.

How do we move past these bravery killers?

Awareness, Insight, Action.

First, you need to identify what killer is coming up for you in the moment. Gain awareness and get real. Are you taking on a behaviour or an action because it feels right to you? Or because you are trying to get someone to like you?

Are you finding an excuse as to why you’re not taking on a behaviour or an action because you’re stuck in your head? Are you listening to those negative voices? Are you wanting to be perfect before you even begin?

Notice what is happening. And then examine why it may be happening for you. Look inside yourself. Insight brings clarity.

And finally, get into ACTION!

You don’t need to learn any more skills, acquire any more qualifications, or boast any more letters after your name. Instead, you must choose to get into action long before you feel ready.

I truly believe each and every one of us is here for a greater purpose. And when we are holding back or letting these bravery killers get the better of us, we’re not showing up in the biggest version of ourselves. And we’re not going to make the biggest impact we can make.

If you were even braver than you are right now, what one small action would you take?

And when are you going to take it? Today seems like a good day to me! Go ahead, I dare you!

Carol Schulte is the founder of The Brave Initiative, a global empowerment catalyst. Her portfolio includes Fortune 500 corporations and international associations, inspiring individuals to get their brave on! She is committed to building braver leaders ... (Read More)

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