Courage: Can it be coached?

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Courage, as defined by the website Dictionary.com means, and I quote, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

            So, if we look at these words in detail, and after being introduced to the science of coaching, the definite answer to the question posed in the title is a resounding YES!

            The next question is: how? If we dissect the definition, we get the answer. So, without further delay, let us do just that. Courage is the ability to face difficulty or danger or pain or anything that might be stressful to the mind, body and soul without guarantees. Think about it, if success is guaranteed, would it be courageous to do something once the unknown is removed? If I know the outcome to be positive, with no risk for me, would it be courageous to do something? This sentence or question in itself also highlights something that needs to be tackled when coaching courage. There is one last point I want to make before diving into the way and the “how” of coaching courage. Courage is the ability to overcome fear, and fear is a result of our beliefs, past experiences, genetics and belief in our own abilities. Fear is determined by what we “perceive” to be fearful. That perception is generated by our minds because of where we think are in our lives, believe who we are and estimate what we are able to do. Notice that all these italicized words are subjective terms that stem from the very fabric that defines us as a mind, body and soul human being.

            Let me elaborate: People of very strong faith are usually afraid of very few things. People who are intelligent, well-educated and experienced generally feel confident in their fields and abilities, and are regarded as “experts”. People who are physically and emotionally and mentally fit are usually portrayed as healthy and capable. It is those people who have enough confidence in them to be courageous enough to try new things, to explore and to be pioneers.

            So, to recap, in order to be courageous, once has to be able to have the confidence in his or her abilities and has to be in a strong place mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. That person should be able to recognize that there are uncertainties and be ready to tackle them head on.

            So, to recap, in order to be courageous, once has to be able to have the confidence in his or her abilities and has to be in a strong place mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. That person should be able to recognize that there are uncertainties and be ready to tackle them head on.

You have just read this small paragraph twice. It is not a typo. It is meant to be as such. I want you to look at all defining terms and by now you should be able to recognize that these emotions, state of being and mind and abilities are all coachable entities. These are almost all learned behaviors and beliefs. And as all of you know, anything learned can be enhanced, unlearned and taught again or simply changed.

Coaching does just that. Wherever you are in your life, whoever you are and whatever you want to accomplish, your courage will be the difference between achieving and not. It is a delicate balance we aim to achieve. Too “courageous” and we run the risk of carelessness. Too “conservative” and we are right back where we started. The best approaches are the ones we follow universally. We look at where the person thinks he or she is and we help them identify where they truly are. We listen to what they want to achieve and help them achieve what they truly can. We analyze their abilities and help them define their true capacities and get them to they can take the next step, or two, or five…

A client walks in and says: I want to talk to my boss, but I am afraid I would get fired. People keep passing me by and climbing the corporate ladder while I stay stuck where I am. I am very good at what I do but very non-confrontational.

A teenager comes in because of poor grades and school performance. He is shy and reserved. When he opens up, he admits to how he is afraid of failure, lacks self-esteem and is burdened by expectations.

These are only two simple examples of what lack of courage and fear can do. Fear robs us of our own selves. It takes away from who we truly are and what we are capable of. To fight it, we need to be able to develop the abilities, generate the confidence and build the belief that our goals can be met, that challenges are nothing more than opportunities, and that our greatest ally and asset is us. That, my friends, is coachable. And it is a beautiful liberating and empowering experience!