Updated: Aug 1, 2019
"It’s not brave if you’re not scared."
Have you ever really stopped to think about that? I know I had not. That is until a dear friend and I were talking about the fears surrounding my career change, and she quickly shared the phrase above which her mom used to tell her often as a young girl. It honestly stopped me in my tracks.
When I think about the word “brave,” it conjures up images of a soldier and his platoon going into a war zone; a firefighter rushing into a burning building; a woman with breast cancer going in for her first chemotherapy treatment; or even a kindergartner stepping onto the big yellow school bus for the first time. I never stopped to think about how each one of these people might feel in their moments of bravery. Their palms may be sweaty; their hearts are likely racing, and their minds are probably moving in an equally rapid pace as they consider dozens of scenarios (some pretty scary) that could play out in front of them. And yet they take the next brave step. They move forward despite their fears.
While you may not be going into a war zone or fighting a terrible disease to win your health back, deciding to take control of your life or make a career change can conjure up feelings of fear. You may worry about your future opportunities, whether you’ve got the skills it takes to be successful or what impacts your change will have on your financial security. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. Being brave means you’re likely facing something with uncertain outcomes or circumstances you’ve never encountered.
I’d like to invite you to think back to the times in your life you were afraid and instead chose to be brave and move forward. I’m betting as you look back you can see how those scary times made you stronger and helped you grow. For me, I think of the day I drove 500 miles away from loved ones in my tiny rural hometown to start college where I didn’t know a soul, or the day I walked into orientation for a corporate management program as a recent college graduate. I reflect on the day I accepted a job offer for the equivalent of my boss’s position at a competing company. I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel 100% prepared. I didn’t have any guarantees for my future success, and yet I moved forward.
Each time, I started out as the new girl on the block. I met new people; I sought out new information and asked a lot of questions. I made mistakes, and I learned. Over time, I slowly adjusted to new circumstances, new companies, and new positions, transforming from the new girl to the tenured expert people turned to for help. But I have to remember that none of my previous successes would have been possible if I hadn’t been brave. If I hadn’t been willing to be the new girl on the block or step outside my comfort zone to try a new city, a new company, or a new position, I would never have been able to grow or add new skills and experiences to my résumé.
What scary new thing are you considering today? Can you take even just one small step forward to make progress toward the goal that’s causing you fear? You've been brave before, and you can be brave again. Remember, you can’t be brave if you’re not at least a little bit scared. Be BRAVE today!