When someone told me recently that they thought I was very brave, I dismissed the comment. To me, having courage means overcoming extraordinary challenges, like climbing Mount Everest or running with the bulls. It never dawned on me that I demonstrate bravery every day, yet we all do. In fact, even though we aren’t necessarily facing tough physical challenges like climbing a mountain, we deal with a variety of obstacles and a multitude of fears as a part of our daily lives. And for the most part, we dismiss our ability to overcome these as not worthy of acknowledgement.
What I’ve learned is that recognizing your bravery, no matter how insignificant the situation may seem to you, is empowering. It fuels your self-confidence and personal and professional power. And the continued dismissal of how you demonstrate courage, keeps you small.
The dictionary definition of courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.” I would argue that it isn’t necessary to NOT have fear when facing these situations. In fact, we demonstrate more courage when we are fearful and then proceed despite our fear. That shows the most courage of all!
From my own experience in competitive corporate settings, as well as coaching hundreds of professional women, it is obvious to me that as professional women we deal with difficulties, danger and pain (maybe not physical, but emotional) as part of our normal work day. And we have the courage to maintain our composure and stay focused. That takes courage!
Here are ten ways you most likely show courage every day:
You’re the only woman in the room, but you speak up anyway. How many times do you walk into a meeting, take a seat at the table and realize you’re the only woman present? Men dominate the conversation and rarely ask your opinion. Sometimes they ask, but then try to talk over you. But you show courage when you volunteer your opinion or when you respond to questions with confidence and demonstrate you’ve done your homework.
You ask your boss for a raise or promotion and offer sound proof of why you deserve it. If we don’t communicate our career goals, we won’t get the support we need to advance. Let it be known that you have ambition. Ask for a raise when you feel you have earned it and present documentation of your business results and how you can move the company or department forward to reach their goals. If you don’t get the desired response, ask for input on how to advance and when it might be possible to get the raise or promotion.
You hire diverse teams that don’t necessarily agree with you all the time. You listen to their point of view and are open to hearing what they have to say. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and listen to others with an open mind. We often ask for input but then dismiss it because we are so convinced our opinions are right. It takes courage to entertain other ideas and admit you may be wrong.
You challenge the status quo. Although you want to make sure you’re not perceived as always being negative, you do want to challenge the status quo when appropriate. It’s courageous to offer different ideas to stimulate new thinking with your boss and co-workers. Present your ideas in a positive manner to avoid being labeled a naysayer. When you unlock the current thinking of your team, you emerge as a leader.
You have a difficult conversation with co-workers, your manager, or your direct reports. You may need to confront them about an inappropriate statement, something they did or didn’t do and this makes you uncomfortable. When you speak up, you show courage and people will respect you for communicating your feelings.
Read the full article on Forbes.com.