Friday, October 29, 2010

Practicing Courage

One way to conquer fear is to exercise courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the will to act in the face of fear. Someone has pointed out that only cowards say they have no fear. Everyone has fears. The issues in fear are: are we going to allow our fear the power to prevent us from doing what we should? Will our fears restrict what we can and should do in life?

One way to gain courage is to practice. Yes, I said “practice.” You develop your courage muscles by exercising them. The way to practice courage is to get outside your comfort zone. Everyone has a comfort zone—a familiar place where you feel safe and secure. A comfort zone isn’t just a physical location, like a home, but has emotional and behavioral components as well.

For example, something outside my comfort zone is going into a room full of strangers and striking up a conversation. In this situation, I tend to become as passive as a wall flower and wait for someone to talk to me. I am envious of extroverts like my wife who find it enjoyable to talk to strangers.

Yet, over the years, I’ve conquered my fear of talking to strangers by simply doing it more. The first few times were difficult, but I got better (and less anxious) the more times I stepped out of my comfort zone and spoke to a stranger. What I discovered is that most of the persons I spoke to were, like me, waiting for someone to speak to them. I’ve had many good and meaningful conversations that I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed firmly planted by the wall.

This is a minor example of getting outside a comfort zone, but it makes the point. When we step outside of our comfort zones enough times, our fear of doing so diminishes and courage is developed.

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