Persistent courage is about finding a way to lean into life, show up as your full self and take action, even in the face of your fears. A life of extraordinary joy and impact takes courage—and one of the biggest challenges to your courage are the defenses you create in your own mind to protect yourself from dangers—real and imagined. Here's the good news: you can cultivate your courage, and one of the most powerful ways to do this involves taking a frank inventory of your fears. This session walks you through a process for overcoming your fear-based circuit breaker, inspired by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s book Immunity to Change.
We are all wired for progress and growth—it’s part of our fundamental humanity. This series on the 7 Pillars of Personal Development for Change Agents is for all of us who feel a particularly strong drive to contribute—to make the world a better place. But here’s the thing. Our higher-level needs are in a dynamic dance with our ego driven needs. Anytime ANYTHING interferes with your ability to meet your lower level egocentric needs for things like security, social connection, status and entertainment, your protective mental circuit breaker kicks in and cuts power to the circuit that your primitive brain sees as a threat. So if your calling is pulling you to grow and evolve yourself in ways that would require even a minor change to your core routines for meeting your basic, egocentric needs you may often find yourself inexplicably immobilized, with no power to move forward despite our clear and sustained intention to do so.
What can you do to reset your fear-based circuit breaker, and cultivate the persistent courage you need to move forward with joy and impact across all the areas of your life? The first exercise in the worksheet for this session helps you map your circuitry in more detail so you can understand what particular fears are tripping your mental circuit breaker, and then take concrete action to safely test those fears—setting aside all the ones that aren’t actually well founded, and restoring your ability to take action on the things that stretch you outside our comfort zone. Download the worksheet, and give it a try!
Once you’ve named your fears, a useful way to get deeper insight is to connect each of these fears with a particular kind of pain. That’s because we can think of fear as anticipated pain. A lot of times we get caught in a loop between our thoughts and our feelings, and this paralyzes us from taking action. This is the circuit breaker we’ve been talking about. Our primitive brain tries to protect us from anticipated pain by making sure we never take the actions that might lead us towards any of that pain. Brendon Burchard, in his book The Charge has a useful typology for three categories of pain:
The worksheet invites you to map the fears you identified in the first exercise to these three kinds of anticipated pain. Once you've done that, the next step is to look at how you can take the bite out of each of these types of fear, and in the process make it easer for you to step up your courage to take action in alignment with your highest self and best intentions.
Techniques for Taming Loss Pain
When you are afraid of losing something valuable if you take action more consistently on your key priority, you have several options to prevent this fear from tripping your circuit breaker and preventing you from taking action on what is truly most important to you.
Techniques for Taming Process Pain
If you are afraid of going through a painful process, what are your options to defang this fear?
Techniques for Taming Outcome Pain
If you are afraid of a disappointing outcome, what are your options to defang this fear?
There is tremendous power in harnessing your subconscious to overcome fears. When you speak to yourself out loud, with conviction every day about your clear intent to do the thing you fear, when you remind yourself about how doing this thing brings all kinds of benefits your subconscious jumps right on board. It doesn’t recognize the difference between actually doing the thing you’ve been afraid of and hearing you talk to yourself about doing it. The result is that you are training your subconscious that this behavior is not just safe, but profoundly attractive. Instead of standing in your way and firing the circuit breaker every time you get near something challenging, your subconscious mind will start working in service of your aspirations. greatest dreams. Who wouldn’t want that going for them?
What: a simple descriptive statement of your highest and best self, taking action on your ONE Thing and reaping the benefits. For example:
How: repeated to yourself 2-5 times/day, out loud and proud!
Check out the video for more on all of this and download the worksheet to dig into each of these exercises. By cultivating your persistent courage you'll be getting an incredible boost to your impact and your joy across all the areas of your life!
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These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one. The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!