confidence pose

How Do You Develop Courage?

You can’t—not directly.

Courage is the result of an adaptive process that requires a person to call upon internal resources to confront a threat and overcome fear. Courage is a product, not a component.

Development of its components, however, is the way to enable courageous behavior.

What is courage’s primary component? Confidence—a reliable belief in your abilities. How do you develop confidence? Practice.

Now we’re on to something.

The urge to travel abroad by myself both invigorated and terrified me. So, I practiced going places solo to help myself manage fear. Feeling and dealing with the discomfort of dining out alone helped prepare me for the awkward gazes received on every solo trip I’ve taken.

Taking repeated and gradual risks is one of the most effective ways to strengthen confidence in abilities and manage fear.

A good way to practice taking risks is to:

  1. Identify small risks to take where potential loss in minimal.
  2. Monitor how you feel when you think about, decide on and take an action. Getting well acquainted with fear helps you know what to expect and accept its presence as part of the courage process.
  3. Gradually build upon successful attempts with larger pursuits involving larger risks.

For example, if a student or employee wanted to improve in public speaking, an action that often produces fear of embarrassment or ridicule, she would first identify small risks to take—like delivering a speech to a non-judgmental golden retriever. Then, she would pay close attention to and reflect on how she felt at every stage of execution. Evaluating a response to fear is necessary to more effectively manage it the next time. Once she feels confident giving a speech to a pet, she would graduate to a larger risk where potential loss is greater—like delivering a speech to a group of friends.

Courage relies on confidence and confidence relies on practice. So, rather than asking how to develop courage, a better question to ask is, “how do you develop confidence?”


Want to know more?
Read “4 Ways To Build Self Confidence

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