5 Sure-Fire Ways To Be More Courageous at Work

The weeds of email continue to stack up. Your budget was just slashed 20% for the year to come. You’re preparing for that quarterly earnings call and know the media is looking for an alarming sound bite that can send Wall Street and your stock sideways. Worst of all? You simply don’t know how much longer this pandemic is going to continue.

These are our realities today, leaders. We’re at the mercy of other people, other agendas and a worldwide catastrophe that is making it harder and more difficult to not just hit a plan—but build a plan for the year to come. The good news, (yes, there is good news) is that all of us—including your competition—are feeling the heat of the above.

So now what?

You can “poor me” it to death or you can shift the mindset which can help you proactively power through it all.

Here are 5 sure-fire ways to be more courageous with yourself, your team and your work. 

5. Wait less. Experiment more. I am on record saying that your #1 competitor in business is not another competitor. It’s time. We are overthinking or waiting far too long to experiment. If you want to be a good teammate then you need to learn how to be a good timemate. How to do so? Implement the ways below.

4. Create the forum for that hard conversation. Our phone at Courageous rings for one of three reasons: a prospect is stuck, scared or spinning. My business partner Billy Collins always likes to remind me that we’re in the business of delivering clarity, belief or a forum for a hard conversation. Ask yourself right now…what keeps YOUR team up at night? We fear these conversations. We don’t want to hurt a co-workers feelings or even speak the truth about a tough problem to a peer or superior…especially when we don’t have a solution to bring to the table. But acknowledging that you have a problem brings you one step closer to searching for an answer. Be the person who brings people together even when it’s hard. Heck, print this out and share this with your group if you need to. Remember, the worst thing you can do is to keep what you’re feeling to yourself—which is doing nothing at all. If you’re feeling an issue, then most likely someone else on your team is too.

3. Block out a weekly “Bold Think Hour” on your calendar now. The only way to break routines of your day-to-day is by creating new routines. Here’s one to add to the mix: Just by blocking out an hour on your calendar once a week gives you 52 hours a year where you are proactively building that courage muscle. How will you use that time? That “think” time is yours to play with; use it wisely to work on courageous new ideas. Have an idea that needs work? Invite a coworker to join your session—heck, invite me. Your choice either is just to respond to what life has thrown at you or make time to proactively drive change yourself. Blocking off just an hour a week can help.

2. Create a courageous budget—not just a contingency budget. For those of you responsible for annual budgets, remember that a contingency budget is nothing more than a reactionary budget. If something works, you literally spend more on that idea. If something doesn’t work, you have your contingency budget to help you clean up the mess. Instead of only having a budget that is used to respond to other initiatives, take 5% of your budget that allows you and your team to proactively experiment.

1. Remember, context is on YOUR side. One thing I learned during my “Return On Courage” listening tour was that 95% of us are in “freeze-or-flight” mode, while only 5% are in “fight” mode. What this means is that 95% of “us” are stuck in preservation mode (vs 5% who are striving for liberation mode). It means that 95% of us are driven by fear (vs 5% who are driven by courage). It means that 95% of us are Worriers (vs 5% who are Warriors). The lesson is to keep moving, keep taking action, and keep learning. If you know that 95% of your competition cannot get out of their own way for all the reasons mentioned above, then just being in the 5% who continue to take calculated shots puts you ahead of most. It reminds me of that Warren Buffet quote, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” So keep chopping wood. Context is the key.



Ryan Berman is an author, keynote speaker and the founder of Courageous; a create-the-change company that builds and leads Courage Brands®. Ryan has helped install courage in the stories and culture at Google, Kellogg’s Europe, charity: water, Major League Baseball, Snapchat, Johnson & Johnson, Cereal Partners Worldwide and US Ski & Snowboard. His book ‘Return on Courage’ shows how during these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage for those leaders who choose to unlock it. Berman also has his own altruistic Courage Brand called Sock Problems: a sock company that “socks” different problems in the world.


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