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10 Tips for Applying Entrepreneurial Courage

By Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

As entrepreneurial women 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 significant if you wish 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: “S/He who hesitates before each step spends her/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 SI (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.

©2010 by Sandra Ford Walston  

Sandra Ford Walston is The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She’s an organizational effectiveness/learning consultant, speaker, corporate trainer and courage coach specializing in understanding courage behaviors, courageous leadership and individual personality and leadership styles with a focus on tricks and traps of the human condition. The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE (2001) and winner for the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups in discovering the power of everyday courage. Her follow-up book, STUCK: 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder (2010) is for all working women regardless of age or position who wish to learn how to employ courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011) is not about how to get a job, but about learning to apply courage techniques to overcome work-related barriers to self-fulfillment.

Sandra is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and is a certified Enneagram teacher. Sandra has been published in several periodicals such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development and Strategic Finance. She provides skill-based programs for public and private businesses, including Caterpillar, Inc., Nolte Engineering, Hensel Phelps, Auburn University, Procter & Gamble, Farmers Insurance, IBM, Wide Open West and Hitachi Consulting. Sandra instructs at the University of Denver Graduate Tax Program. She offers a free courage newsletter and posts a courage blog, and she can be reached at www.sandrawalston.com



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