Applying Entrepreneurial Courage by Sandra Ford Walston

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Mar 24th, 2013
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courageAs entrepreneurs maneuver through business pursuits, they recognize defining moments and apply everyday courage. Cognizant of the etymology of courage (meaning, “heart and spirit”), their courage consciousness is vital to their success, particularly during times of uncertainty.

Based on thirteen years of original courage research, twelve behaviors of courage emerged that are useful to cultivate a reservoir of courage. Below, the courageous entrepreneur will find ten of the twelve behaviors they can utilize to keep stepping up. You might wish to prominently display this ancient Chinese proverb: “He who hesitates before each step spends his life on one leg.”

  1. Affirm strength and determination.  The entrepreneurial spirit is a disciplined machine that knows why it is important to take time to practice daily reflection (at least twenty minutes) to evaluate and apply the best resources available. When doubt seeps in they ask themselves, “Do I really need this?” Then, after reevaluating their path, they decide whether the sacrifice is worth the objective. If they need to make adjustments to their plan, they do. Applying courage consciousness, they constantly refocus, and continue to step up.

  2. Hurdle obstacles and take risks.  Every behavior you exhibit and every action you take is a choice. There is a big difference between reacting and courage consciousness. Give yourself permission to choose the risks you take so you can creatively navigate your way around, through, or over any obstacles that cross your path. Entrepreneurs know that mediocrity is the kiss of death. When you feel reluctance set in, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I do this?” Usually the worst never occurs, so take the risk and step up to the next rung of the ladder (even though it might feel like a mountain).

  3. Manifest vision.There are no shortcuts when it comes to business success, so it’s important to know where you want to go and develop a crystal clear vision of your goal. Become stubborn about attaining your vision so you can discard any non-productive judgments others put on you. Committing totally means you stay “true to yourself” (that’s your everyday courage at work!). You can accomplish this by developing your SQ (Spiritual Intelligence). How do you do this? Stay present so you can shift gears if the goals you set forth need modification. Imagine if you were on a cruise chip to the Caribbean and the compass on the ship was off one degree! You might end up in Nova Scotia! Are you off one degree?

  4. Reflect self-esteem.  All your actions reflect who you are and what you stand for. If you’re repeating a certain behavior that you don’t like, don’t editorialize! Look inside and ask, “What old script needs adjusting?” To move out of an old “B movie” sharpen your skills and abilities through education, reading and training, and surround yourself with the kind of people you want to learn from–the people that display higher levels of courage consciousness. When was the last time you learned something new?

  5. Speak up.  If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, believe your intuition and disclose why you believe the situation is not desirable. Exercise your courageous voice by challenging the status quo; make graceful waves when someone is putting you down or attempting to deter your passion. Swallowing your voice is the opposite of being the voice above the crowd. A courageous voice has learned how to embody “where courage meets grace.”

  6. Conquer fear.  True fear is a survival signal that sounds only in the presence of danger; yet, our culture is stuck in the creation of dualities, such as courage or fear. In other words, you can’t have courage without fear. Not true! If you go to work and learn your biggest client has gone to your competitor do you allow anxiety to take over in the form of projections, such as “I am going to go under….” At this point, observe your mental chatter so you can monitor the fearful feelings. A courageous entrepreneur does not spend much time in regrets. Fear blocks and paralyzes the heart; therefore, fear blocks courage. What percentage of your life is filled with regret?

  7. Reveal vulnerability.  The storms that enter your work life offer opportunities for an honest assessment of your vulnerabilities. You discover that vulnerability comes in many forms, such as acknowledging your unhappiness, learning to move on through disastrous events and learning not to manipulate failures or mistakes. While this may seem like a sensible behavior pattern for an entrepreneur, the deeper truth is that revealing your vulnerability represents integrity and authenticates your True Self. This choice is the opposite of hiding your mistakes or a weakness that is accomplished through manipulation, which undermines integrity, breeds distrust and stifles “heart and spirit.” As poet e.e. cummings wrote, “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”

  8. Reinvent self.  One of the keys to productivity is to have the courage to do things differently. That is probably why many traditional organizations are constantly trying to reinvent their leadership models and redefine expectations. Strategizing means the ability to re-create daily, not just during the annual budget meeting at corporate headquarters. Entrepreneurs naturally tend to know this. Rarely generalists, they represent portraits of courageous endeavors. Why? Rather than accept the comfort of apathy, they trust their own abilities, define their careers and demonstrate the self-discipline necessary to create the business of their dreams. How often do you reinvent yourself?

  9. Live Convictions.  One entrepreneur told me that applying his courage at work requires that he demonstrate daily an unconditional commitment to his beliefs, values and ideals. This is not an easy commitment to maintain, especially if you are stuck in invisibility–the obstacle to courage. Are you willing to showcase your talents, take a risk, face failure, overcome rejection and say “No” to conformity (a courage killer)? Conformity compresses talent. The savvy entrepreneur knows that there is a direct correlation between their courage quotient and success.

  10. Confront abuse.  Recognizing first red flags that undermine success such as a client trying to discount your services or alter your course of action is a critical courage action. To stand in your dignity means denial is not an option. Denial is a form of self-abuse that creates suffering such as sleepless nights. Reflect on a situation at work that causes tension (or worse) in your life. As you examine the situation, begin to notice your “default” courage settings. Then, take responsibility for your courage consciousness development and declare, “No more suffering.”

Courageous Actions Equals Productivity

If courage has eluded your spirit in the past, now is the time to step up and make your entrepreneurial vision a profile in courage–the one that reveals your heart and spirit.

© Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert| If you like the tips for applying entrepreneurial courage, sign-up for Sandra’s free monthly courage newsletter. Sandra is the innovator of StuckThinking™, an organizational effectiveness/learning consultant, speaker, and a courage coach. She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE, and her new book, STUCK: 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder, is now available.

gap_guide_deliberately_designing_your_professional_presence_perspective_newFor more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.

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