How Tiny Steps Lead to Big Courage

It was time to tell her team about major changes she was making in the business, and she knew that meant having some tough conversations.

She was ready. We’d worked on this transition for months. But she was nervous, and not without reason.

But courage comes when you do the things you think you can not do.

And that means being who you really are…

…even when who you really are right now might make others a little uncomfortable.

Sometimes, a lot uncomfortable. 

Do you ever worry that if you showed the world who you really are, or told someone what you really thought, or did what you really wanted to do – they might totally freak out?

I see this with my clients all the time.

Someone will start to talk about a few problems they’re having, usually with important people in their business. They’ll tiptoe in with a small complaint about their otherwise great business partner or incredible assistant or really sweet client….

The words come faster and easier as they begin to relax, and the strength of their frustration begins to show. Tears may come, as they allow themselves to speak – and feel — the truth of what’s bothering them, sometimes for the first time ever.

Then – they freeze.

Their eyes widen, they give me a startled, worried look and say something like, “I’m sorry. I don’t want you to think…” (some terrible thing about their otherwise great business partner or incredible assistant or really sweet customer.)

I tell them I don’t, but the truth is it doesn’t matter what I think – it matters that they’re being honest, with themselves, in that moment.

It matters that they’re allowing themselves to say out loud that there’s something going on in their lives that They Don’t Like. And what a startling experience that is for so many.

But here’s the thing.

You can’t hold uncomfortable feelings back forever. If you do, it’s just a matter of time until the dam breaks. When that happens, you’ll say things you might actually mean, but you’ll say them in a way that you don’t.

That’s not good.

And avoiding the hard conversations you need to have hurts you more than anyone else.

It drains your energy (takes a lot to hold that dam in place); it keeps you from getting your needs met, and sometimes, it allows things (people, situations, circumstances) in your life that are just flat out not good for you. 

It could even kill your business.

I’ve coached entrepreneurs who became physically ill after years of saying “yes” to things in their business, when they really wanted to say not only No, but Hell, no!.

I’ve had others who could barely feed their families, but not because they didn’t have enough business or weren’t doing good work. They were broke only because they were terrified of asking for what they were worth, and they weren’t getting paid.

That’s not good, either.

So I’ve got a challenge for you.

I really want you to work on this, because I know how common it is.  And I know how it holds you back from being all that you can be.

Successful. Financially secure. Respected. Proud. Authentic.


In small ways, each day, I want you to look for ways to practice telling the truth, just the simple truth about what you think, how you feel, or what you want.

And no – I’m not saying to throw tact or diplomacy out the window. This doesn’t mean running roughshod over other people’s feelings.

But I do mean saying No when you feel no, and saying Yes when you feel yes. I do mean being willing to disagree with the dominant point of view at the meeting even if you’re the only one who feels that way.

I do mean setting standards and boundaries in your life, and in your business.

And yes, you might make someone uncomfortable.

If you’ve been the Ultimate Nice Lady for a long time, folks may wonder what’s gotten in to you. They may think you’re just going through a phase, or perhaps you just need a little rest.

You might decline an offer for lunch, politely disagree with your peers at a board meeting, or – shock! – decline a potential customer who’s not a good fit.

Sure, they’ll look at you funny – but try this, once your heart stops pounding:

Enjoy it.

Begin to enjoy the delicious sense of freedom that comes with being someone who speaks her mind, and holds her ground. Allow yourself to enjoy the sensation that comes with surprising people!

Yes, it’ll scare you at first. It’ll startle them too.

But remember: “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”

So here’s your challenge.

Just TODAY. Look for an opportunity to say one thing that you would normally not say, something that will surprise people around you – but that is completely and totally true.

ONE thing.

It could be something really simple (I’m not up for fast food today. How about Panera for lunch?)

Or it could be something much bigger (I need to talk to you about a problem…) – even if it comes out as a whisper.

You may also like:
[VIDEO] Key Warning Signs That You’re In Too Deep (and…
It Takes Courage to Be an Entrepreneur
How to Become a Practicing Imperfectionist
How to cope when things get ugly.
Photo by Waldo Jaquith on Flickr

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