When you hear the word courage, you might be tempted to believe that it’s all about throwing yourself into daunting situations without thinking twice. It’s also common to think that people who have made significant achievements are fearless.
But with celebrities such as Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain succumbing to mental health challenges, we might need to revisit the meaning of being courageous. In fact, the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 9% of the men surveyed experienced daily symptoms of depression or anxiety. Sadly, only one in three sought treatment for these conditions, and only one in four spoke to a medical professional. These are some of the worrying revelations signaling a need to redefine what it means to be courageous, particularly as the concept pertains to men.
For Certified High-Performance Coach and the mastermind behind the Siena Strategy Partners, which constitutes the base for her coaching efforts, Kate McKay, the answer isn’t about how we behave in moments of crisis but rather in how we live our lives on a daily basis. “Being courageous means valuing your inner world and respecting your ideas enough to communicate them effectively. It means seeing intimacy, romance, and emotional connection as worthy of your time and effort,” McKay says. “There are ways for men to come out of their holes and become as confident as they want to be. All they have to do is look inside themselves to find the answers.”
Identifying Our Fears
It’s a well-known fact that pinpointing our fears can help us overcome them. When you look at the things that worry you, you start thinking more logically. This, in turn, helps you take action and break the cycle of fear. According to McKay, most of us have three main fears in life. The first one is the fear of change and that whatever is waiting ahead of us is just too hard to overcome. The second is the fear of the outcome of our actions and that the effort we put into something won’t be worth it. Finally, the fear of loss. “I think the last one is the most significant one,” McKay elaborates. “We fear that if we take action, we’re going to lose someone or something that’s important to us. Because we’re going to grow beyond that thing or person.”
To put things in perspective, McKay advises bringing to mind a change that you have been reluctant to make or a goal you have failed to chase. She then advises examining the precise reasons why you have been stalling. Is it the fear of loss? The fear of hardship? Or the fear that the outcome of your actions might not be as satisfying as you expect?
Life is a Journey
Traditionally, society has viewed people who accepted the challenge and made it to the finish line as courageous, completely overlooking their journey. However, if we look closer, the culture of fixating on goals and neglecting the hurdles in the journey to those results contributes considerably to today’s mental health issues. Often, those who don’t hit their goals feel like failures, not understanding that challenges are just a part of the path to success. And sometimes, those who excel have put themselves through sleepless nights, poor eating patterns, substance abuse, and many other unhealthy habits.
So how do we gain the courage to overcome these obstacles? The answer lies in going inward and paying attention — rather than overlooking — the journey. In particular, McKay believes that it takes fortitude to express our feelings, thoughts, and needs to the world. She also believes that learning how to communicate more consistently builds the kind of confidence that breeds success. Not being honest with others, on the other hand, diminishes courage.
The Power of Action
Once you’re aware of your fears and how they manifest in your life, you can respond to these challenges with action. Since facing obstacles head-on builds confidence, your actions are likely to break the cycle of fear in your life. This is because people that take action, rather than shy away from life’s obstacles, tend to develop a better sense of who they are. This, in turn, usually makes them more resilient and ready to deal with life’s little or big surprises. “A good start is identifying a few areas in your life that require more decisive action,” McKay says. “Then it’s a matter of committing to taking a few leaps forward in those particular areas.”
Unleashing Your Inner Warrior
Embracing courage — or unleashing your inner warrior — can be a game changer. Not only can it equip you with a different perspective on the world, but it can also help you empower others. “A warrior is a person who shows great vigor, courage, determination, inner strength, and heroism when confronted with challenges. Someone that uses adversity to implement necessary changes and manifest the best version of themselves,” McKay says.
McKay is adamant that hiding from fear is futile. Rather, we need to examine it and move through it. “Nothing is worse than regret. It’s not an option because staying the same is unacceptable. Everybody has their inner hottie and everyone wants to claim it. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s possible,” McKay narrates. “This is where the right coach can help you clarify your vision and take action. This is what’s going to lead you from fear to courage.”
To empower others, McKay has written a book entitled, “Claim Your Inner Warrior: How to Live a Life of Courage and Unleash Your Personal Power.” The follow-up to her best selling
“Claim Your Inner Badass” aims to help men overcome fear through introspection and action.