My experience has taught me that most people don’t really understand what courage is. When I ask attendees at my workshops for a definition of courage, the answer I often receive is “the absence of fear.”

But this isn’t accurate. If you ask military personnel how they feel during battle, most will admit that they are afraid much of the time they’re in the field.

So what is courage? It’s action in the face of fear. It’s standing your ground despite being afraid. Brave servicemen and women risk — and sometimes sacrifice — their lives. But they do so not without fear. Rather they do what has to be done in defiance of their fear.

Wherever I go, I find entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses and advance their careers. These people have all the technical skills they need to be successful, but they’re still not getting what they want.

Either:

  • They don’t know how to get it, or
  • They know how to get it, but they allow their fears to hold them back.

And yet other times:

  • They haven’t yet decided to make a change.

If you feel as if your practice ought to be growing but you’re just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both or all of these factors might be at play. If fear is one of them, understand that it’s OK to be afraid when it comes to stepping onto the dangerous “battlefield” of business. Admit that you are afraid, and then resist your urge to back away from the fight.

Ultimately, it is our learned response to fear that is the far bigger threat to our achieving what we want than the perceived dangers. We feel the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests and the little voice in our heads that warns us to run away. And we obey.

The good news is that if we have learned this response, then we can unlearn it and replace it with something better. It’s OK to be afraid, but if you want something, you cannot back away from it. Instead, take a deep breath, remember your strengths and go for it — valiantly.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to www.sandyschussel.com.