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Some Call me Brave – I’m not so Sure
In somewhat of a contrast to my previous blog about Fear and Procrastination, this time I thought I’d talk about bravery. Sometimes when I meet new people, they ask me a little bit about my back story. And on certain examples, they even comment that they think I’m brave – which is obviously quite a compliment, even if I don’t or didn’t feel it at the time.
For example, when I was 19 years old, I joined the US military and spent about 8 years there. I felt pretty proud about the work I was doing and serving my country. And I suppose there’s always an element of uncertainty – not knowing if you’ll be sent into a combat zone or not.
Later in life, my family and I decided to seek out jobs that would allow us to pick up and leave our home country and move to the United Kingdom on a permanent basis. A few years after that, we even purchased a house and moved to a different area of the country in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Brave? Or a little bit crazy.
Even something as innocuous as shifting careers. Now, I’m not in my 20s anymore, so shifting careers at my age might be seen as a brave act. To me it just became something I desperately wanted to do, but really, all of those examples are now in hindsight, they’re in the past. And I can tell you…at the time I didn’t feel brave. In fact, most of the time I felt unsure, nervous, very uncertain.
As someone who is naturally a planner and one who digs into the details, it makes me nervous when I don’t know the future. The funny thing is I never know the future. It’s always a prediction. It’s always a calculated risk. But I think the element that people might identify as bravery is those examples when, despite being scared, I’ve gone ahead and done it. Believe me, it’s not everything. There’s no sense in being reckless! But I think for me (if I think about it), if I prepare for it and if I make a calculated risk; eventually I do have to take a step forward and do it.
Keep at it Despite the Initial Skill Level
There was a meme that I saw on the Internet and subsequently found another blog by Amy Reese Anderson titled “Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New”. It struck me, as it struck Amy, as being rather motivating. I don’t need to be brave enough to take the hill. I don’t need to be brave enough to immediately be a successful business. What’s important is to be brave enough to take the first step. Because in my opinion, bravery is much more about the many little things that you do in your life. As much as, if not more so, than the few big things. And with all of them, it’s perfectly OK and perfectly natural not to be perfect.
If you learned to ride a bicycle as a child. You might remember being afraid of falling down. I learned on sidewalks and streets, or at least I think I did. It was a long time ago. But I do remember my dad holding the back of the seat. I do remember using training wheels. But it was still up to me to push the pedals and to keep trying. And eventually finding the balance in my body and in my inner ear to master riding a bicycle. And then I was off to the races as they say.
Another example, closer to home at this point with voice over, is that when I first started (and I hear this many, many times with new people when you first start recording yourself and listening back), you sound very different than what you sound like in your head. It’s very common for people to say that they hate the way that their recorded voice sounds. There’s not the same resonance in your head and in your ear when you’re speaking and listening to yourself compared to what gets recorded. But I keep reminding myself that the microphone is picking up what you hear. And it simply is my voice. There’s nothing good, there’s nothing bad about it. It simply is what it is. Now sometimes that’s accentuated with bad acoustics, and we can all take the technical route of how to fix that.
Bravery is Found in Each Step you Take
But the point is, when you start, you definitely don’t feel like you’re very good. So be brave enough to go ahead and record yourself. Keep practicing, keep working with coaches and taking classes. That’s the way to improve. Just like learning how to ride a bike.
So instead of being fearful, instead of being scared and letting that prevent you from doing things, be brave. Just brave enough to make an attempt. Tomorrow be brave enough to make another attempt. Eventually you’ll improve. You figure things out. Sometimes they don’t work out so you will alter course. But continual bravery means you will get better at whatever it is you’re trying to do or accomplish. And then, when you look back with some hindsight, maybe you’ll realize – just how brave you’ve been.