How To Be A Courageous Person: Steps, Traits, And Habits

We all admire a courageous person: those who seem to have no problem taking risks. They leave their job to follow their passion, they start a business, they travel alone, and so on. When we look at them, we wish we can be them – make the same choices, take the same risks. But the thing is, the silent wishing takes away our chance of becoming courageous ourselves.

You see, courage is not just about the big things. It’s also about the teeny, tiny opportunities you and I encounter everyday. When you exercise your courage muscles daily, you become stronger and more ready to take on bigger challenges.

It’s a common misconception to believe that being courageous means becoming fearless. It’s not. After all, we’re wired to be afraid. Being courageous means focusing on fear less. It’s shifting your mind away from the problems and onto the promise. It means having the guts to take a step forward, knowing there will be obstacles, and doing it anyway.

What Is A Courageous Person Like?

Courageous people act in the presence of fear. They embrace it and choose to do what they set out to do anyway. They may have doubts, experience gut-wrenching fear of the unknown, or risk failure. The difference is, they choose action – they develop a bias for movement.

Courage is determined by what we do with what we have – knowledge, power, skills, etc. People remain afraid because they choose the comfort of “familiar” over deciding to face the unknown. So, if you want to develop courage, accept the punch in the stomach and move anyway.

Here are some examples of courage in action you can practice on a daily basis:

  • Standing up for what is right even when what you’re standing against is popular.
  • Showing up to create art (things that can make others better but may not work).
  • Raising an issue or concern about the behavior or conversation of other people.
  • Contributing an idea, point of view, or objection during a meeting.
  • Making a decision to follow your dreams and actually doing something about it.
  • Showing your work even when there’s a possibility of being criticized.
  • Asking for promotion and proving that you’re deserving.
  • Telling your spouse or partner that you have a problem and discuss it with them.
  • Writing a blog, article, or social media post on a point of view that’s different from what the masses agree on.
  • Saying “No” without feeling compelled to give any excuses.

How To Be A Courageous Person

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

Courage is a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. But the thing is, you have to use it. Just as you can’t hire anyone to do your push ups for you, you have to practice courage yourself. Here are some suggestions on what you can do.

Step 1: Decide

The word decision literally means “to cut-off from.” People often make decisions but fail to remove themselves from other options or back their decision up with action. When you decide to be courageous, you must cut yourself off from all other paths. Meaning, you have to commit to practice being courageous whenever possible.

But here’s what you need to know: your decision doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. It’s a moment-by-moment choice. You always face the option of staying in your comfort zone and enjoying the status quo. Or muster the courage to move forward no matter how you feel.

Step 2: Choose What To Be Courageous On

You and I have a scarce amount of time and energy. That’s why you must choose the things you’re going to care about and be courageous of. Life is divided into 8 spokes: 

  1. Relational: Your friends, family, and casual acquaintances
  2. Emotional: Your overall emotional well-being
  3. Physical: Is about your physiological health
  4. Intellectual: How you nurture your mind
  5. Vocational: Talks about your career
  6. Financial: Pertains to how you manage your finances
  7. Recreational: What you do on your free time
  8. Spiritual: Your relationship with God

To be frank, managing these eight will take most of our time and energy. Adding more “concerns” will only take our sanity away.

Choose your priority. You don’t have to be courageous in your career, relationships, religion, politics, social movements, and aliens all at the same time. You’re human. And you only have a few “cares” to give. So choose and practice your courage all the way.

Note: You can still work on the other areas of your life. Just know that you won’t have the same energy for them as you do in your primary spokes. Probably.

Step 3: Define A Personal Vision

Once you choose a priority, create a personal vision. It’s the genesis of an inspired life. The reality is, you can only practice being courageous when you have a destination in mind. The gap between where you are and where you want to be is where you can practice courage and discipline.

Step 4: Show Up And Develop The Habits

You can’t think your way to having courage. You must show up or put yourself in situations where that courage might be tested. This way, you get to develop the habits courageous people have. More and more, choosing courage over comfort becomes easier for you.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat

Start over from step 1. Everyday when you wake up, decide that you’ll stop living in fear and make things happen. Stop cowering behind the bliss of your comfort zone and start choosing the fruits of the unknown. One act of courage can change your life.

Characteristics Of A Courageous Person

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Maya Angelou

When you become a courageous person, there are peripheral traits you develop as well. While others try and develop these separately, you know that focusing on just one trait (courageousness) ties them all together.

Self-Confidence

When you start putting yourself out there and learn to face the fear, you also start believing in yourself. It’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) obstacles to success. What a tragedy it is to have all the skills, knowledge, and support you need and not believe in yourself.

I’ve met many people (also known as “me”) who struggle with self-confidence so much. Their fear of not being good enough, getting “found out”, or feeling “not ready” is messing with their life so much. I tell them (me) that self-confidence is a by-product of the habit of courage. So, practice courage.

Intrinsic Motivation

The kind of motivation that fuels you for your long-term goals. Without courage, it’s impossible to get up and look forward to work. Any motivation from outside is futile or lasts for a short time at best. But when you develop courage even in small things, it makes you more energized to pursue your dreams.

If you want to be self-motivated, create a vivid design for a future you want, then put in the work. That takes courage, but also brings forth motivation.

Faith

The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. The habit of courage expands our faith, too. Faith that the process we’re going through will lead to the future we designed. The faith that it’s going to be worth it. Knowing that whatever obstacles we face will only lead us closer to our vision.

Passion

A big one. In my observation, passion is one of the topics that has a lot of misconceptions around it. Passion is not just the feeling of doing something you love. It’s the conviction that what you’re doing matters. It’s the courage to stay in love with doing the work. Passion is about loving what you do and working to keep on loving what you do.

A Sense Of Completeness

Have you ever felt like you were missing out in life? You look at other people and see them so far ahead in life and you can’t help but feel jealous. More often than not, the people we look at with jealousy take risks on more things than we are.

When you practice the habit of courage, you’ll experience a sense of completeness. No, you won’t achieve your goals immediately. But the feelings of progress will take over the emotion of jealousy – you’ll know you’re on your way.

Habits Of Courageous People

Courageous people are determined based on what they do with what they have. This means, they don’t just decide on what they want to do, they act on them. They don’t sacrifice their future, their vision, for present comfort or happiness.

You see, others can continue to encourage you to put yourself out there, take risks, make a move and such. But unless you choose to act on them, you’ll never be courageous. You already have enough, know enough, own enough to take that first step. Take it.

When talking about habits in this post, I don’t mean the things we do without thinking. For this purpose, habit is the intersection of what we know and what we do. The continuous seeking and practice of that intersection is the habit.

This requires three things from us:

  • Upgrade the things we know;
  • Evaluate the things we do; and
  • The resolve to move forward no matter what

Here are some habits of courageous people that you can start working on today.

They Dream Of A Better Future

Courage requires us to see a better future, accept where we are today, and identify the gap. Between the gap is where we’re able to show up and practice choosing courage over comfort. This is why it’s critical for you to dream of a bigger, better future.

Most people want to live a meaningful, courageous life. But they won’t take the time to identify it vividly because it will get their hopes up. When they fail to meet their expectations – their vague dreams – they become disappointed. But you and I? We know that it’s part of the process. And the only way to move forward is to move forward.

They Show Up And Take Bigger Responsibility

Start with your career. It’s one of the easiest spokes in our life to start showing up and take bigger responsibility. You don’t necessarily have to be promoted (yet) to take on more responsibility. Look around and see missed opportunities and do something about them. You’re adding value to your company and whether they see it or not doesn’t matter (for now).

You’re practicing getting out of your comfort zone. It’s mighty scary to take on more responsibility, to risk doing more, especially when you don’t feel like caring for your company. But that’s precisely the point. Most people don’t care about the company they work in… and there lies your chance.

Now, this will do either one of three things for you:

  • You’ll get noticed, get praised, and acknowledged. Do it a couple more times and they’ll promote you.
  • Nobody notices but you feel proud about yourself. You do it not for the external rewards, but for flexing the muscles of courage and adding value.
  • You get out of the company knowing that you did everything you can and it’s time to move on. Tell those to your next employer and voila! Welcome to your new job.

Side note: the act of asking for bigger responsibilities also counts. This was my secret weapon for why I got promoted faster than my co-workers. Every time I have a chance to personally speak with my boss, I pop the question.

“What projects can I do or problems you need help solving that I can take on so I can grow professionally?”

This is important: you come from a place of help. Sure, your intention might be to get promoted, but learning and adding value must come on top of that.

Act In Spite Of Fear

Taking action in spite of fear is the hallmark of courage. Ask yourself, “What actions are you putting off because you’re afraid?” It doesn’t matter how big or small that is, we all have them.

Afraid to quit your job? Plan for it! Scared to say your feelings? Take the chance – the answer is always “No” unless you ask! Want a better relationship? Sit down with your partner and open up!

I know it’s scary, and that’s okay. It’s what makes it meaningful to do.

Another thing, act before you’re ready. I’m not saying don’t get ready. But when you’re 80% ready, you have enough. Stop hiding behind “researching” or “mustering up the courage” or “waiting to be chosen”. Choose yourself and make it happen.

They Think Before They Speak

In the world of Social Media where opinions trump over truth, courageous people think before they speak. Before commenting on issues, they ask themselves if it fits their priorities. Remember, you only have limited “cares” to give in this life. When you’re freely giving it out, it diminishes it’s value.

But when the issue is about something they’re passionate about, they don’t hold back. They do their due diligence and they speak with weight. I don’t know about you but wise people speak because they have something to say. Fools speak (or comment or rant) because they have to say something.

Embrace Failure

You’re not always right. More often than not, the things you’ll try will fail and that’s okay. You’re not meant to be perfect – you’re made for progress. Courageous people embrace failure. They know that success is a collection of failed projects, wrong attempts, and bad experiences.

Look beyond and see the promise behind the problems.

How to be a Courageous Person
Success is on the other side of failure

I hope you learned something new that will help you be a courageous person. Remember, you can’t think your way to courage; you have to put in the effort of flexing the muscle. But the rewards are incomparable to the sufferings of your present moment.

Live an inspired life,

Jeric Timbang