How much courage does it take to live your life?

I think it takes me quite a lot to live mine. Not that I live a particularly brave or difficult life, I just feel like I use a lot of courage.

It takes courage to move outside your comfort zone.

To do things that are not easy, not habit. To speak to a stranger. To lift yourself up when you are feeling down. To submit that piece of work that you’re not sure about. To start something. To continue with it when it gets hard. To finish something and put it down. To have that difficult conversation that you’ve been dreading. To admit that you’re not happy and to start doing something to change. To accept that you are not who you thought you were or want to be. To take that first step into the unknown.

I’ve lived with fear for as long as I can remember.

I’ve never been in physical danger, I’ve actually been lucky in that I’ve witnessed very little violence in my life. But I’ve felt fear for ever. I’ve felt overwhelming fear walking into work, chairing a meeting, entering the Board Room, putting my ideas and my work out there for others to judge. I was so familiar with it that I actually forgot it was there. But it was. And it grew and grew until I stopped moving. I stopped doing. I allowed myself to fail because fear stopped me taking action.

But I’ve managed to turn it around.

I wanted the fear to stop so badly that I did something about it. I changed. I developed. I focused on finding out what makes my heart sing, what I enjoyed. When I started I didn’t have the answers. I’m only just starting to get them now. But I knew that if I started following my heart instead of my head the fear would go.

And during that journey I’ve learned two things about fear.

First, the actual doing of something is never as bad as the fear of it. Second, fear is my friend. Without fear I would have no courage and without courage I would do nothing. I wouldn’t move, I wouldn’t change, I wouldn’t act to improve my life. Which I do, every day.

For me its about respecting fear.

Knowing that it is there to help you overcome obstacles, not stop you from doing things. So many actors report terrible stage fright, which almost kills them, but once they get on stage it helps them be their very best. And so while they hate the process they wouldn’t do without it.

And the great thing about courage is that the more you use it the bigger it gets.

I’m now exploring loads of things that I’ve never dared do — I’m writing, I’m sculpting, I’m playing the piano, I’m learning new skills, I’m coaching. So throwing myself into the new, things that terrified the pants off me a few years ago, is now becoming second nature.

Which opens up a whole new world to me.

So thanks fear, I couldn’t do it without you.

Further reading

Many books have been written about overcoming fear and finding your courage. Feel the Fear and do it Anyway is a great one. I recommend you read it if this post resonates in any way.

Anything by Brene Brown is also hugely worth reading / watching. She links fear with vulnerability, creativity, innovation and the risk of shame. If you haven’t come across her yet do check her out.

Take 5 minutes.

Have a think about your own fears. What makes you scared? You don’t have to admit this to anyone else, just yourself. How does that fear make you feel? Where in your body do you feel it? What’s the impact it has on you — how does your behaviour change?

What do you do to overcome it? How does that feel? What does your courage feel like? Where in your body does it live and where does it go?

How do you recognise the fear and the courage? What could you do to shorten the time between feeling the fear and finding the courage? If you focus on the part of the body where your courage lives does that awaken it sooner?

Then think about what in your life would you change if you only had the courage? Think about it in terms of if you couldn’t fail — if you were guaranteed to succeed what would you do?

Then have a little think about how you can make it happen.

Try this exercise — find the courage.

Next time you are facing a situation that scares you, take a moment to recognise the fear. What is it that you are scared of? What outcome are you focusing on — the successful one or the potential disasters? Spend a couple of minutes visualising the outcome you want — the successful one. Picture it, feel it, smell it. Focus on it exclusively.

Then go ahead and manifest the outcome that you want. Use your courage to make you shine. And enjoy the journey.

This was originally published on 5th May 2015, at, under the Commuter Coach series. The website is no longer active so I’m republishing it here.

At theslowcoaches we live to 4 principles of slowing down, tuning into what you need, determining your gifts that you choose to give to the world and living life to your own design. We are in service to others, helping them do the same.