Grow your courage and resilience muscles
When co-founder of Hatch, Roanne van Voorst, wrote her book ‘Fear! Extreme Athletes on how to reach your highest goals and overcome stress and self-doubt’ (Motivational Press, 2018), she was able to speak with some of the biggest daredevils in the world. Their stories confirmed what she had already learned from a decade of anthropological research on the themes of courage and resilience: that becoming brave is something you can learn.
To stay brave, during the challenges we face in our daily lives and at work, you have to train and maintain a character trait that we may describe as ‘braveness’ or ‘courage’. You are doing this by training your courage and resilience muscles, which can grow stronger or weaker, depending on how much you use them.
A great example is the British climber Hazel Findlay who is known for climbing the most steep, tall and smooth rocks in the world (rocks most other climbers wouldn’t dare to climb!). She trains and maintains her courage muscle by regularly doing things she finds a bit scary. Falling into the rope, whilst climbing for example. She doesn’t like that practice, because she is afraid of falling down, as she fears getting injured. To stay ahead of that fear, she practices making little, low-risk falls at the beginning of every season until she is not occupied anymore with her fear of falling whilst climbing.
Hazel: “People always think I was born brave, but often I’m very, very scared! I just practice with it, and that’s why I’m able to climb the biggest rocks.”
Training your courage muscle is a tactic often used by other athletes and daredevils as well. Take Alex Honnold for example. He’s an American climber who climbs mountains of hundreds of meters high – that’s thousands of feet. And he does so without any rope or safety measures at all.
He told Roanne that in his daily life he never stresses out any more about things which would have excited him before. He thinks it’s because he practices a lot on things he thinks are truly scary. That’s how he learnt to calm himself down in panicky situations.
So, you might think, why am I reading about climbers, since I am not one?
Probably for most of you that’s true. The lesson we can all learn from these athletes is that it is very important to train your courage and resilience muscles. Not just from time to time, but often. Because by training and maintaining these muscles you will strengthen the braveness and resilience within!
So, let’s get to work and work those muscles!
You can start practice on things which are just a tiny bit uncomfortable to you. But if you are ready for the big changes, go for it! Test and try, look around at your colleagues for more inspiration. While training your courage and resilience muscles, remember these three rules:
- By not training and using your courage and resilience muscles, your brave self will be overshadowed by doubts, worries and concerns at work.
- Training and maintaining your courage and resilience muscles will make and keep you brave.
- If you test and try too hard while you aren’t trained enough, you’ll overstretch. So don’t push yourself too hard. First make some little improvements and build it from there.