Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman
Disclaimer: Use of military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.
Who among us has had a big dream, thought about going for it and then immediately talked yourself out of it? Because, after all, who am I? Who do I think I am that I can stand up and do that big amazing thing; apply for that job, give a big speech or lead a critical project?
After all, people I respect—who are older or more experienced or more accomplished—haven’t even tried to do what I’m thinking about, and when I mention it, they wrinkle their nose and look at me as if I were an alien from outer space.
I’m often asked how I had the courage to run for Congress, run for President–Elect of the AVMA or join the U.S. Army Reserves. If I said I was never scared, or even terrified, I’d be lying. But then I think about all of the wonderful, amazing accomplishments in the world today.
More than 40 years ago, Microsoft and Apple began as ideas in someone’s garage. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs weren’t famous, and there was no such thing as a personal computer, an iPhone or an intuitive operating system. They had to have the courage to stand up and do something that had never been done before. They had to not only step, but leap outside of their comfort zones and stay there.
Just imagine the unwavering vision, focus, intentionality and courage it took to be different, to think differently and change the world as we know it today. To be both supported and laughed at; simultaneously encouraged and discouraged, to listen to the market while ignoring the criticism, quite simply, takes courage.
We often hear about having a growth mindset and that leaders should have a willingness to grow and try new things. That can be scary! What have you accomplished that took courage this week? Last month? Last year? We’ve all stepped outside of our comfort zones. It could have been as simple as reaching out on LinkedIn to ask a colleague you don’t yet know for advice, calling a client with bad news, agreeing to speak for the first time at your local veterinary association or train for a 5k run.
Everything we do on a daily basis took amazing courage the first time we did it. The more we try, learn and grow, the easier it is to take significant steps outside of our comfort zones to reach for our goals and live out our dreams. If you had even more courage, what would you immediately start doing? What would you immediately stop doing? Sometimes it takes more courage to stop doing something that has become easy, or routine than it does to summon the courage to start something new.
So often, the reason we decide to avoid doing something isn’t due to a lack of courage but rather due to fear. We are afraid of losing, we are afraid of the hardships we may endure if we pursue our dreams or we are afraid of the outcome. We can even be fearful of succeeding as much as we are afraid of failure because our lives may be forever changed in ways that we cannot yet foresee or understand.
Now think about that big, scary goal or dream. Remind yourself of the courage you summoned to pursue your current veterinary career. Did others discourage you? Did they believe in you? How did you know that you could succeed? Why were you willing to try? What experience do you have with success that you can apply to your current goals and dreams?
Sometimes we need to be reminded that we’ve been there before; we’ve been afraid, but we pursued our dreams anyway, and we succeeded. +