THE BLOG

5 Ways to Be Braver at Work

03/27/2015 11:20 am ET | Updated May 27, 2015

Ever sat in a meeting thinking, "If only I had the guts?" Perhaps you found yourself playing it safe rather than speaking up, suggesting a change or taking a chance only to regret it later?

There is no doubt, that from time to time, most of us wish we were a little braver when it comes to saying and doing what we think really needs to be done in our work.

Be it a difficult conversation that needs to had, a negotiation on which we have to hold firm, or an opportunity that we believe needs to be seized, bravery is not the absence of fear but the ability to triumph over it.

"Often we think of bravery as acts of heroism on the battle field," explains courage coach and best-selling author Margie Warrell. "In reality every one of us is called on to be courageous in some aspect of our lives, every single day."

Bravery is an action that takes place despite the presence of fear, the perceived personal risk, and an uncertain outcome.

Fortunately bravery isn't just something we're born with -- or without. Researchers are finding that bravery is actually a skill that we can learn and just like going to the gym each day to make your muscles stronger, you can build your bravery by practicing it in your everyday life.

"The more often we act bravely, the braver we become," said Margie.

Here are five ways Margie recommends you can be a little braver at work:

  • Re-think Risk - We're wired to overestimate the probability of things going wrong and to underestimate our own abilities and deny the cost of inaction. The result is that when we're not happy with something at work, we have a tendency to stick with things as they are rather than take a risk. The reality is though that there is a cost to inaction that we often overlook. So it pays to be aware of where your cognitive bias are coming into play and weigh up the risks of not doing something brave.

  • Get Clear On Your Purpose - It's easier to be braver when you're connected with a bigger vision for your work and for your life. Ask yourself: "For the sake of what am I coming to work each day?" What is it that excites you and inspires you? What are the risks you're willing to take to honor your purpose in the world?
  • Give Other People's Opinions Less Power - We're social beings who liked to be liked and don't like people to criticize, disapprove or reject what we're doing. But when we let what other people think, dictate what we say and do we're essentially giving our power away. When other people's opinions are stifling your ability to show up at work and achieve what matters to you most, it's time to reclaim your power and be true to yourself.
  • Tame Your Inner Critic - That little voice that whispers in your ear "you're not good enough", "you'll make a fool of yourself", "you're letting people down", is simply fear trying to protect you from emotional pain. Try to tune into what your inner critic is saying, tell it you've heard the concerns and let it know that you're going to try this anyway. Because while you might be afraid that you're going to fail and that things won't work out, at least you will have tried and you'll know that fear isn't running your life leaving a trail of frustration and regret behind.
  • Embrace Failure As Part Of The Pathway To Success - Instead of personalizing failure as occurring because you're stupid, not good enough or no one likes you, try to see it as just part of the course of achieving success. Think: "I tried something. I didn't get the result I wanted. What can I learn? What should I try next?" Every entrepreneur who's really successful will tell you they failed lots of times. For example, Thomas Edison is reported to have said it took him 1200 attempts to discover how to make a light bulb work. Imagined if he'd stopped at 1198 because he felt like he was a loser!
  • If you were to do one brave thing at work today where would you start?

    For 47 other ways you can feel a little braver at work grab a copy of Margie's new book "Brave."

    This article first appeared on Psychology Today.