Why Bravery Is a Key Component of Changing Careers

Joseph Liu
Published in
4 min readNov 10, 2023


Bravery is typically defined as courage and fearlessness in facing difficulty or adversity. When applied to your career, bravery involves taking actions that deviate from those more characteristic of a traditional, linear career path. Actions you take despite the resulting discomfort because you know the potential payoffs dwarf those when you just play it safe.

Bravery can shift an action from being marginally helpful to potentially game changing. When applied surgically, bravery is not only helpful but necessary when attempting to relaunch your career.

Courageous Steps Involve Discomfort

Good opportunities rarely come at perfect moments. Taking bold action is often harder than simply being content with inaction. The discomfort alone can prevent you from ever taking those important first steps that can open the doors to new opportunities.

To share a personal example, just over a decade ago, I decided to resign from my corporate marketing job in the UK. During my final months in that role, I received an invitation to give a couple of talks at Europe’s largest trade marketing conference in London.

Although speaking at that conference seemed like a great opportunity, I was apprehensive about pursuing it at that specific moment in my career. Preparing a presentation required substantial effort during a time when I was trying to focus on my professional transition. Also, I’d never spoken at an industry conference before, and I had little experience with public speaking aside from those presentations I’d given at work.

Staying In Your Comfort Zone Is Always Easier

One reason why I didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity of giving a talk at a big conference was because I felt like a lot could go wrong. As someone who has attended plenty of conferences myself in the past, I know good and bad speakers are both unforgettable. I had some serious fears of my talk falling flat and damaging my professional credibility, which was the last thing I wanted right as I was starting my own career consultancy.

Doing something courageous in your career takes much more effort, energy, and resources than staying in your comfort zone. Coming up with reasons not to push yourself to take a brave action is easy. We are all rather effective at talking ourselves out of things.

Brave Steps Often Deliver Imperfect Outcomes

Despite my concerns, I decided to give these talks, realizing an opportunity like this may not come up again.

However, my talks didn’t go particularly well.

My slides were very basic. The audience was much larger than I expected, and I struggled with my nerves. I ended up tripping over my words. I even went over my allotted time, resulting in the moderator having to come onto the stage and ask me to stop before I’d finished my presentation.

Not exactly how I envisioned things going. I can’t help but cringe a bit when I go back and watch these talks.

Often, when you’re doing something new, it will take you some time to find your feet. You’ll find yourself tripping through your first steps out of the gate. Everything may feel like it requires tremendous effort. You might struggle to find your rhythm. Just remember that having a suboptimal start is completely normal.

Slow Starts Can Still Pave New Paths

I share this personal story to emphasize that engaging in brave actions within your career often involves doing things that make you uncomfortable. It may entail facing fears, navigating unfamiliar territory, or doing something you’re not that good at . . . yet.

Even though those talks didn’t go as well as I’d envisioned, an organizer for the TEDx Cardiff conference was in the audience. I was later invited to give a TEDx Talk there a few months later, which was again, not my best talk, but one that laid the foundations for the work I now do as a professional speaker and corporate trainer.

Your first foray into something new will certainly not be your most brilliant moment. But sometimes, just showing up and doing a good enough job can plant the seeds to more substantial opportunities that can radically change your career for the better.

At Some Point, You Have To Make Your Move

When was the last time you did something brave in your career? When did you undertake an endeavor, knowing it could potentially fail, but went for it anyway because of the potential upside for your life and career?

If your tendency has always been to play it safe, maybe it’s time to see what happens when you don’t. You might just be surprised which doors end up opening up for you.

Originally published at Forbes.



Joseph Liu
Career Relaunch

Joseph Liu- speaker, career change consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch® podcast focused on helping people do more meaningful work. https://josephliu.co