‘Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death’
~ Omar Bradley
I’ve recently got back into listening to pod casts whilst I run. I find that it helps me to forget I am running as it provides me a different focus. It also makes me feel like I am multi tasking like a boss, which I love! On a recent run I listened to the Tim Ferris podcast with his guest Caroline Paul talking about Micro Bravery. I love this concept.
We often set ourselves huge challenges and then feel so overwhelmed by them that we don’t know where to start and maybe put them off altogether. The term Micro Bravery refers to the idea of teaching ourselves to be brave by taking small steps of action. Due to the fact that bravery can be learnt, to get good at it, we need to practice.
When I was younger I faced lots of anxiety and didn’t feel brave at all, quite the opposite in fact. I was scared of talking to big groups and giving presentations. I was anxious travelling to new places, meeting new people, going into situations I was unfamiliar with and trying new things. The people that know me now, wouldn’t even recognise the person I was back then. What changed was taking small steps every day, getting to know my fears and learning how to manage them.
These ideas can support you on how you can implement micro bravery in your own life:
1) Get to know your fear
Understand what it is that you are fearful about. As Seth Godin says, ‘Dance with it’. Embrace it and get used to having it there. Don’t view it as an enemy, don’t run from it. Get comfortable with the fact that there are things you are afraid of, and be OK with that. Consistently move forward with these things. When I was younger I was anxious when I went somewhere new for the first time. I was able to deal with this better when I admitted it, I talked about it and I found ways to manage it. I got to know my fear. Now one of the things that excites me most is travelling to new places.
2) Do something outside your comfort zone every day
Identify small things that you can practice every day where you need to use courage. Find something you can implement each day that over times makes your fear start to be much less daunting and more natural for you. For example if you get anxious speaking to new people, try to speak to one stranger each day, even if it is just to say hi. You’ll be amazed how quickly you start to feel more comfortable with it.
3) Chunk it down
Being brave is much more manageable in small pieces. If there is something overwhelming you that you are scared about, try chucking it into small steps. If you are scared of giving presentations to large audiences, try practicing it in the mirror, then present it to your mum or partner, then try it out in a small group, then build up slowly to a larger audience. This can be much easier than tackling it one huge step.
4) Accept perfection does not exist
If you constantly strive for perfection, it can result in you being more afraid of failure. This is due to the fact that you may not achieve the perfect outcome you have built up for yourself in your mind. If you drop the notion of perfection and instead aim for the best you can be, failure can stop existing for you and as a result lessens your fears.
5) Learn to recognise the difference between excitement and fear
At times it can at times be difficult to identify the difference between excitement and fear. They can both feel quite similar in sensation based on the fact that they’re chemically similar. Once you practice micro bravery, you can start to develop an understanding of the feeling of fear versus excitement and therefore stop any confusion between the two. You can then embrace them both in their place.
6) Transfer your bravery
If you learn how to be brave in certain situations and you practice that, this should help you out in other areas of your life, because it is a transferable skill. Once you get more familiar with being brave and practicing micro bravery in general, this can be applied across any area.
7) Work out your bravery muscle
Finally, being brave takes practice. You can think of it like a muscle that you need to work out. Like lifting weights at the gym, it’s not something that just happens overnight, it is something that needs to be built up over time and continually practiced in order to get better at it.
If you are brave in the small moments, they will all add up, so that you can be brave when it really counts.
I’d love to hear any experience you have had at overcoming your fears and being brave.