Choosing to be courageous liberates us to achieve more.

Courage should be an everyday event - not necessarily worthy of a bravery award, or even something others would notice. It may be something personal to you.

Example?

I'm sometimes down at our local country school for an hour on Fridays, to help with writing and speaking skills. One week I was working with a nine-year old lad who had been 'volunteered' for the district's public speaking competition. There would be competitors from several schools and an audience of about 100. In class, he was speaking so quietly that only the front row heard him. His teacher asked if I could help him project a bit more. 

But there was a more important barrier to success: He didn't want to do it. He was telling his teacher that he wouldn't be able to go. I was sure he was terrified.

The next week, he rushed up to me. 'I did it! I went in the competition!'

Did he win? I didn't ask, because that would have masked his real achievement. He had felt the fear and done it anyway. That's courage. That's success and a foundation for more risks and more success.

In business, courage is facing up to challenging conversations with colleagues, a supplier or client.

It's developing a new product or service and seeing how it goes.

Courage is applying for promotion or quitting our current career for something more challenging.

It's willingly taking on a new project or enrolling in a study course, knowing that we could fail.

It's taking the intiative at parties or networking events - introducing ourselves and starting conversations.

It's saying, 'I'll do that' when your team needs someone to speak at a public meeting or to the media.

With courage, we take more opportunities. We fail more often, but overall, the result is more resilience, more success, more confidence - and a more satisfying and even longer life.

 

More about choices

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You'll see various interpretations of SMART. Here's one.

Choose goals that are...

Specific (A definite outcome, not just ‘improve my skills in…’)
Measureable (Figures if you can, but sometimes it will be a tick in a box, like ‘Climb Mount Aoraki’)
Achievable (A stretch, but not a fantasy)
Rewarding (Each goal should be something you really want to achieve)
Time-based (Decide deadlines)

So what's missing?

Action - a particular way of turning good intentions into action.

The researchers' name for the next stage is 'mental contrasting'. It means thinking, not only about the goal, but what might stop you making progress towards your goal - in that order. It's contrasting because you regularly compare the two - goal Vs obstacles.

Try 'When/then'

Let's say your goal is to get fit. Maybe your major obstacle is procrastination or distraction. Try this: 'When I get home from work, then I will go for a run around the park.' No excuses, no exceptions. The less you think about it the better. A run immediately after your arrival home is just what you do. Everything else can wait.

More examples of 'when/then'... The sentences might seem a bit unnatural, but having both when and then emphasises the action. (And you don't have to say them aloud.)

'When my partner talks to me, then I will turn off any distractions and give my full attention.'
'When I first sit at my office desk in the morning, then I will call three clients.'
'When my colleague gets angry or unreasonable, then I will stay calm.'
'When other people are talking and I feel like changing to my topic, then I will ask at least two questions to explore their topic.'
'When 10.30pm comes around, then I will go to bed.'
'When I am in my car alone, then I will listen to my foreign language/business CDs.'

Keep reviewing the obstacles 

Are the obstacles still relevant?

Do the obstacles make the goals unattainable? Would it be better to abandon those goals and try something else? 

Are the obstacles so easy to overcome that your goals are not really stretching you? You have a to do list. Google has decided that the sweet spot for success with goals is not 100% but just 60-70%. Any more success suggests that the goals weren't enough of a stretch. Lower than that range suggests that we're not dealing with the obstacles or the goal is just a fantasy.

Why the focus on obstacles?

Does focusing on obstacles seem a bit too negative?  Think of it this way: facing the reality of obstacles is a more effective strategy. It will make you more resilient to setbacks. You are more likely to reach your goals. 

Positive thinking is healthy, but positivity that denies reality is not.

Researchers have found that the most optimistic goal-seekers are the least resilient. A setback can come as a shock and may be enough for them to give up. If you think about possible obstacles before you start - and develop a plan - an obstacle won't shatter your confidence or determination.

The most resilient achievers are positive in the sense of having a reasonable expectation of success, but accept that a real challenge involves setbacks. 

 

 

 

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