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Courage – the secret to success

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We see others succeed; become famous artists, win the Olympic Games, climb Mount Everest, overcome tremendous challenges, win awards and prices, and we think that they are in another league, living another kind of life, where this kind of success and achievement is possible – for a lucky few. Or, we have people in our circle of friends who live their dreams, got the dream job, do the things we dream of… and we might have thoughts like; why them? Why do they succeed? How could they do that? Why not me? Why are they so “lucky”? What do they have that I don’t?

Have you ever had a thought like that? Most of us have. So, what’s the answer? I guess that depends on who you ask! If you ask the person who keeps winning and seeing success, or if you ask the person who’s wondering why it’s not “happening” to them.

My answer is: courage.

In order to achieve the extraordinary, to get the big wins, to exceed expectations and deliver to your highest standards, to keep upgrading your dreams as you keep fulfilling them, and to be an inspiration to others, you need to have massive amounts of courage.

Why do I say that? Well, I think if we spend some time analyzing why not more people achieve great(er) things, often times the answer is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of trying and not succeeding, fear of trying and looking stupid, fear of what others will think, fear of not being able to pull it off, fear of not being able to make it financially, fear of the physical challenge, fear of being considered strange, fear of not fitting in, fear of success (???), fear of the sacrifice it involves, fear of not being good enough, fear of not having the energy to endure, fear of stepping out of the comfort zone, fear of the unknown… It makes me feel tired to write about all these fears. What a waste of lifetime to accept them, and – yes, that’s how I see it.

I always wanted to dare to surf one of those gigantic waves; stand on the board through that blue, swirling tunnel, and come out with victory and excitement at the other end of the fear. I have made a few attempts, but not yet made it. I will…

What is on the other side of that fear? How about; Opportunity… Success… Growth… Experience… Fulfillment… Joy… Freedom… Love…  Happiness… Wealth… Pride… Accomplishment… Peace… All of this, and more.

If you look at it from that perspective, from the other side of fear, it’s a mystery that not more people go for it, and face their fears, when there are ONLY benefits to gain. That last phrase holds an indication as to what it is that makes the difference. What is it that defines if you will face your fear or not? I wrote, “go for it”. What does that mean? It means; to take action, just do it, move forward – in spite of the fear. When we take action we instantly step forward into growth and make things happen. It’s been said that action and fear cannot co-exist, so by stepping forward into action, fear will have to step aside automatically. If you let fear take the overhand, it is very unlikely that you will ever take action on your project. It is much more likely that you will get results if you take action and let fear fade away, than to wait for fear to fade so we can take action. My mentor Paul Martinelli said:

“Limiting beliefs should fear you”.

That’s a good fear to have! For the rest, step into courage and face your fear! Step forward into growth, or backward into fear.

The more you can manage to step forward, take action and face your fears, the more courage you will build up; and the bigger the results you will enjoy. Those who made it and enjoy success were not saved from feeling fear, oh no! They felt it and did it anyway.

Courage is not something you either have or don’t. Courage is believing in yourself, in your capacity and worth. Knowing that you will give it your best and step forward in spite of fear. That’s when your courage shows and grows.

Courage is not given to you. You’ll have to muster it, over and over again, and keep piling up so that you’ll have the courage to take bigger and bigger steps forward and upward.

Recently I did an exercise on my values; truly knowing and living them. A dear friend of mine, Selena Ardelean, the author of SHINE, talks about this in her book. She encourages the reader to gain full clarity on your values. The challenge was to pin down your top 5 values, select one and live it intentionally for 5 weeks. I did that! The value I picked was COURAGE. Over a period of five weeks I have been very intentional in my thoughts, actions, and behavior and made sure I showed as much courage as I possibly could, for me and others.

As a first act of courage, I pushed myself FAR out of my un-comfort zone (I haven’t been in a comfort zone for the past three years) to have a 30-minute conversation about cutting down one of my trees, that broke in a wild storm, in Luxembourgish. That is a vocabulary that I have never been exposed to and am sure I made over 100 mistakes (at least) during the conversation. For me, that took courage, to continue speaking a language I’m not yet fluent in. The effort paid off instantly! By showing courage and exposing myself to making all these mistakes; grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and more, and just keep going was a very humbling and liberating feeling. More courage! On top of that, the person I was talking to, appreciated my efforts and volunteered to put me in contact with the best person to help with the tree.

Yes, I sounded very funny probably. Yes, I made more mistakes than you can count. And yes, I had to use body language and simply make up some words to have this “conversation”. But afterwards, I felt really proud. To be able to speak another language, and communicate with people in “their” language is such a powerful feeling. Fulfilling and empowering. Connecting on common ground. It’s freedom! Is it worth the uncomfort of being in that “grammatical mess”? Absolutely!

As one of the activities of courage, I committed to having at least one Luxembourgish conversation per day for the five weeks, and will continue with this long term. Knowing what happens when you take one step forward, with courage, I am so excited I just decided to start a new five weeks of thinking, acting and living with the next core value I have: FAMILY. This will be wonderful!

Courage – your key to success!

Be all you can be,


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