The sun is finally cresting over the eastern horizon. Dawn is breaking and you ease the car into the parking lot. Gravel crunches beneath the wheels. You’re the first one here. Of course, maybe you’re going to be the only one here for a while.
Even before you trek up the hill to the rocks jutting out over the water, your heart is beginning to ramp up in your chest. You can hear it echoing in your ears. Never before could you have ever imagined yourself trying something like this.
But whether on a dare or simply to do something different, here you are. You don’t like heights. Maybe you’re even afraid of them! But in less than 15 minutes, your best friend is going to have you out on a cropping of rocks 50 feet above the dark water.
It’s already a blistering start to the summer day. Your palms are getting sweaty as you gather some things and stall at the car. Why are you guys doing this first thing in the morning?
Because you worry your courage will fail you if you wait too long. After all, you’ve tried to do something like this before, but every time you hesitated and walked away. Why? Because you let your thoughts get the best of you for too long on those fateful days.
Not this time. You agreed with your best friend to get over here as soon as the sun was up. That way, you could get it over with and not be thinking about an afternoon attempt. Your best friend told you once you do it the first time, you’ll never be afraid of it again.
You hope that’s true. But you’ve never tried anything like this before. In fact, the more you think about it, the more ridiculous it seems. “Why do I have to jump from a perfectly safe position?” you wonder as your friend recognizes your stalling tactics.
Time is up. It’s either start the walk up toward your fate or chicken out, slip back behind the wheel, and grip that steering wheel as though your life depended on it.
It definitely takes courage to do something you’ve never done before. Whatever it is that causes you fear or anxiety, there’s something. You could be an adrenaline junkie and I can guarantee you there are things you don’t like to think about.
As a budding entrepreneur or somebody with this kind of ambition, you’re looking at beginning a journey you’ve never gone on before. It doesn’t matter how many people have gone before you, how many have chickened out while still in the parking lot or even halfway up the trail. It doesn’t matter how many chickened out while standing on that ledge looking down into the swirling waters, imagining another rock formation just beneath the surface, waiting to laugh as you realize too late.
There have been millions upon millions, possibly even billions of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes throughout history who have gone before you. Most of them failed to even pull into the parking lot. Many got out of the car, thought better of it, and got back in and drove away.
A few mustered up the courage to get started. They might’ve walked along the trail for a while, maybe they even saw the ledge beyond the next clearing, but noticed it looked more like 150 feet down to the water, so they turned back.
In the grand scheme of things, only the bravest of the brave were able to get out there, take their shoes off, and go for it.
Are you that rare individual?
I absolutely believe you are. If I didn’t believe that, you wouldn’t be reading this. Maybe you’re stuck in the car still, not sure if you’re even going to shut the engine off and open the door, but let me tell you, it’s worth it.
You may bellyflop. You might inadvertently do a flip. Or maybe you jump with incredible confidence and land a perfect dive.
The result right now doesn’t matter.
How Do We Muster Courage?
As I have mentioned in the previous blog about belief, just as with developing faith, you can’t drink a potion or say a magic phrase and suddenly have courage.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. People with courage don’t do certain things that are courageous because they lack fear; they do them in spite of the fear.
So the first thing I want you to do is dispel this notion that your fear is a problem. It absolutely is not.
In fact, a little fear can be healthy. If you didn’t have any fear and you pulled into that parking lot, you wouldn’t hesitate to get out of the car, walk up the trail, and just jump.
That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, does it? However, imagine not having fear at the right times. Maybe your best friend heard about this place to go jumping off the cliff into the water, but you know nothing about it.
Would it be wise to just jump into unfamiliar water? You want to know how deep it is there. You’d want to know what’s under the surface. Without healthy fear, you can easily get yourself into dangerous situations.
A lot of people have lost everything because they lacked responsible fear. No, fear isn’t the enemy. The enemy is allowing fear to paralyze you.
Having courage means you acknowledge the fear, accept it, and keep pressing forward. Developing courage for somebody who has never really possessed it can take time.
If you have had moments in your life of great courage, but when it comes to your business dreams and ambitions you seem to always lack confidence, there’s a foundation there.
We simply need to figure out how to properly build on it.
Analyze Your Foundation of Courage
What I mean by this is that you take an honest evaluation and assessment of your overall courage (or lack of) throughout the general course of your life. Maybe as a young child or preteen, you were outgoing, ambitious, and energetic. You might have loved just meeting anyone and everyone.
But, perhaps due to some bullying or those awkward teenage years, you became more withdrawn, shy, reserved. That can have an immediate and direct impact on your overall courage.
The more self-conscious a person is, the less likely they are to have the necessary courage to put themselves out in front of others. A person who is shy, withdrawn, and afraid of speaking in public is simply going to have a much more difficult time getting on stage or in front of the classroom to give a speech.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t.
I once read an interview with Bono of the rock band U2 where he was discussing nerves. Even after nearly 30 years on tour (at that time), he admitted he would still get nervous before every show. Even to the point where he feels he might get sick.
Imagine that! An international superstar actually gets nervous to go out and perform!
You might get nervous getting on stage in front of people or having to speak even in a small group, but you’re not alone. That’s why I’m talking about the foundation of courage, not whether or not you actually have enough courage in certain social situations.
When you analyze your foundation, you can see where to get rooted when it comes time to launch your business dreams.
Where Should You Be Rooted?
This is an important piece of the puzzle. Since it takes courage to do something you’ve never done before, but maybe you’re reserved, withdrawn, fearful, shy, uncertain, not confident in your abilities, or whatever, how do you actually make it happen?
First, you need to believe that it’s possible. That’s not saying you need to believe that your first entrepreneurial effort is going to earn you millions of dollars or great fame. No, it’s the idea that whatever the outcome right now, you’re a winner because you try.
That’s where you need to root your courage. In the notion that just moving forward is a victory. Every step on this journey is going to be a victory, even if you trip and stumble.
What happens when you’re out walking along a trail in the woods and your foot catches a rock or root? You lose your balance, don’t you?
But which direction do you fall? Backward? Not if you’re moving forward. You fall forward.
That’s exactly what’s going to happen even if you make mistakes or experience failures along this entrepreneurial journey.
And that’s where you are going to drill into the rock of your courage. Into that idea that no matter what happens, you are a winner. Because remember, as I mentioned, of the millions or even billions of people who had dreams of starting their own business and becoming an entrepreneur throughout history, very few actually tried.
You need to be rooted in the concept that getting out there on that rock ledge, knowing it’s safe, but also realizing you might not land perfectly and you might do a bellyflop or inadvertently land on your side or upside down, it’s still safe.
Standing on that ledge is where you separate true courage from almost true courage. I want you to drill down into the foundational rock of your life and realize it’s not the end result you should be focused on right now.
Because, if you are standing on that outcropping worrying about hitting the water at the wrong angle or too far out or too close in, the odds of you stepping back and walking away increase with every passing second.
Don’t focus on what might or might not happen. Don’t worry about the end result. Just focus on taking that initial step and go for it.
Yes, you may very well fail on your first attempt. Most of us did. Most of the next generation of entrepreneurs, including you, will. That’s okay.
It’s not about victory out of the gate. This is not a sprint. The entrepreneurial life is a marathon. It’s actually a lifelong adventure.
If you highlight any successful entrepreneur during our time or throughout history, I will be able to show you how many times they failed before they achieved the success they’re known for.
Every single one.
So put away the worry or the thought about the end result and instead just look at the first step. When you can do that, you begin developing the kind of deep courage needed to try something new, something you’ve never done before.
You can’t possibly know if this is going to work out if people will laugh at you if you will be mocked and ridiculed, or a raving success. The end is not written.
Because you haven’t started the first words. It’s time to write. It’s time to step off. It’s time to drill down into that deep well of courage you already possess.