What comes to mind when you think about the bravest people you know? Is it raw strength? Ego? Fearlessness?
Not for me. Want to know what I see in those people? Discipline.
These people – some entrepreneurs, some writers, some designers, and others from many lines of work – all have a singular kind of discipline that I want to cultivate more of in my own life.
The discipline to act in the face of fear.
We all experience fear. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t, or if they don’t they are probably somehow dysfunctional. We are biologically hardwired to get butterflies in the stomach and feel a sense of dread when everything is on the line. However, some people shrink back in those moments, and others step forward. They feel their fear, but they discipline themselves to step squarely into it. Sometimes this means literally putting their life on the line. Sometimes, it means acting defiantly in the face of illness or oppression. Sometimes, it just means risking the possibility of losing something they’ve worked hard to obtain.
In a small way, I’ve had to encounter this choice between shrinking and acting often in my work. Writing my latest book Louder Than Words was an act of disciplined bravery for me. Sure, I care deeply about the subject, but a fear of failing, missing the mark, or otherwise compromising my body of work was a constant companion as I sat to write each day. My daily, disciplined steps into the unknown eventually yielded a book. It wasn’t one mustering of the will, it was many of them parceled out over a few years.
– People who choose bravery know what drives them, and they care more about the outcome than they do about temporary discomfort.
– People who choose bravery hear the voices of doubt, but choose to believe the truth.
– People who choose bravery know that life isn’t all about their own wants and desires.
– People who choose bravery are building toward something they can’t yet see.
– People who choose bravery don’t think it’s bravery in the moment. It’s just the next step forward.
Will you choose to be brave with your work? Will you have the courage to develop your voice, and do work that you’ll be proud of in ten years?
It takes bravery to stand against the tide, to plant seeds you may never see harvested, and to invest in work that may never be celebrated. It takes bravery to refuse to settle-in to a place of comfort, even as everything in our culture tells you comfort is the aim of life. It takes bravery to make something you’ll be proud of in ten years, not just something that is good enough today.
Will you choose to be brave?
If you’re interested, here’s a little more about why I wrote Louder Than Words, and what drove me to continue even in the face of my fear of getting it wrong: