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How to Exercise Courage - Leading in Your Twenties Series

Fear prevents good people from stepping forward and doing the right thing.

When have you chickened out? We have all failed to exercise Courage at times of testing. Maybe you didn't speak up. Maybe you told someone what they wanted to hear instead of what they needed to hear. Maybe you did nothing because you didn't want to deal with the potential negative consequences.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of 12 blogs written directly to the Twenty-Somethings. This is about you and your future. As you read these blogs, please share them with other people who want ideas on how to lead now and how to develop the Twenty-Something Leaders of our future.

Courageous people weren't bitten by a radioactive spider that instilled them with Courage. They just have more practice facing their fears than other people do.

Courage is the Foundation to Your Character

Courage is perhaps the most important Habit of Character a leader must develop. Without Courage, you can't have Integrity. Why? Because if the only time you do the right thing is when you can't be hurt by it, that is not Integrity.

C.S. Lewis states in his book, The Screwtape Letters:

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Fear prevents good people from stepping forward and doing the right thing. Whether you are in your 20s or in your 50s, fear will kill your potential and will destroy your ability to lead others.

Exercise Courage

Andersons' Definition of Courage

Acting despite perceived or actual risk.

Courage is a habit. The more you face your fears, you are more likely to face your fears again in the future. Conversely, the more you let fear make your decisions, the more likely fear will make decisions for you later.

As we age, habits become harder and harder to break. Why? Because we have been making these choices for so long, they are no longer choices. They almost become muscle memory.

A good soccer player or football quarterback doesn't think about his/her footwork on every play. Practice has made the footwork automatic. But they had to make the choice to practice.

To develop any Habit of Character to include Courage, you have to make the choice to practice Character in the small things so you are ready when the big tests in life present themselves. The small day to day tests of Courage will prepare you so you become the courageous Leader of Character other people want to follow.

The Courage Workout for Leading in Your Twenties

To start developing your Courage, all you need to do is exercise Courage. Start making new choices that force you to face your fears. Some of these are relatively small choices, but they will help you to exercise Courage just like you exercise a muscle. We call these #CharacterReps. (Credit to: @COLCraigFlowers)

Choose to:

  • Have that conversation you've been avoiding.

  • Try something you're unsure you can do.

  • Initiate a conversation with someone at work who seems intimidating.

  • Step up and take charge when everyone else hesitates.

  • Share a new idea with your boss.

  • Tell your friend when they need an Altoid.

  • Take responsibility instead of making an excuse when you screw up.

The more you face your fears, the less you will be controlled by fear. Who wants to follow someone who is controlled by their fears? Nobody.

Whether you have the opportunity at work or in your personal lives, you will have to choose fear or to exercise Courage on a regular basis. Whichever you choose, you are taking a step closer to or a step further away from being the Leader of Character you are able to be.

The sooner you start practicing Courage and exercising it like a muscle, the stronger leader you will become. You will be ready when the big tests come in your life and be seen by the people you care about as a courageous Leader of Character.


  • What fears seem to be more common in people who are just starting out their careers?

  • How have your fears changed after you confronted them?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to

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