At InnerWill, we define our value of courage as “choosing to do the right thing for the right reasons.” This definition came after long deliberations of what it means to be courageous. The courage that shows up for each of us in our day-to-day life. We come across opportunities to be courageous on a daily basis – in giving feedback, in making an ask, in returning food at a restaurant, in sharing an opinion.
Perhaps the space I find most valuable to call upon my courage is when I am making a decision that impacts others. There is a fear my decision it will impact others in a negative way. An underlying concern of how others will judge, perceive, and react to my decision.
I have recently made a decision around a transition in my life. As you consider a decision you have made or are in the process of making, identify how you are or how you have the opportunity to exhibit the behaviors of courage:
- live in alignment with one’s values
- embrace vulnerability
- approach the difficult with confidence
Live in Alignment with One’s Values
We realized that in order to do the right thing for the right reason, one needed to understand what they value since our values system is what drives our decision making. However, it wasn’t just enough to KNOW our values – there had to be aligned action. We quickly identified this idea of “living in alignment with one’s values” as a behavior that would help an individual exhibit this idea of courage.
What this means is your decision doesn’t have to be right for anyone but you. The decision cannot be made from a place of fear or an emotionally hijacked state. It must be based on the values you live your life by. Sometimes, we are granted time and are able to consider, reflect, and collect information prior to making a decision. Sometimes, we have to be able to synthesize information and line it up with our values system quickly.
Here are questions to consider as you make a decision to determine if it aligns with your values system:
- What impact does this decision have on those around you? How does that impact align with your values?
- What is driving this decision?
- When you state your decision out loud, what is your emotional response?
If you are interested in a tool to assist in identifying your personal values, check ours out here!
Vulnerability is one of those words that sounds beautiful and important, yet often people struggle with what it means for them and how to do it. Brene Brown defines vulnerability as “having the courage to show up and be seen.” It is about you being you – and sharing that with others. Through this decision there are hopefully truly beautiful things (either about the decision or about the impact it will have) and at the same time, there may be really terrible things. This decision might impact people’s emotions or stability, might create a setback. This decision might change the way someone perceives or potentially trusts you.
And even though those parts might be true, it is about providing yourself the grace to experience all of it.
Here are questions to prepare you to be vulnerable and to set your vulnerability boundaries:
- Which aspects of your decision process do you want to share, with who, and when?
- Who do you need to connect with about this decision? What might their reactions be? How do you prepare for that?
- Who will need your support through this decision? Are you able to give that?
Approach the Difficult with Confidence
There are decisions we make that are well received, others that are challenged, and still others that are flat out disagreed with. It is in those moments where we have an opportunity to approach the difficult with confidence.
This doesn’t mean you have to be happy and unrealistic about it. It means you need to believe in yourself, have the confidence that this decision aligns with your values, and recognize that in making this decision, you are creating a better future for yourself and others.
In my belief, this statement we landed on, “approach the difficult with confidence” is aspirational. It also won’t always be true. Depending on the weight of the decision being made, being confident is an iterative process with moments of doubt, confusion, and a need for validation. That is OK and the process assists in building our confidence.
Here are questions to ask yourself as you build your confidence around your decision:
- What is the long-term impact the decision will have?
- What validation do you need? From yourself? From others? How can you ask for it?
- As you discuss your decision, are you venting, problem solving, or explaining?
In all the decisions you make, my hope is that you are making ones that are for the right reasons, knowing those right reasons have to be YOUR right reasons. And through that process, you have to make sure they align with everything that matters most to you, that you explore your true experience with it, and you confidently take that next step forward.