High Performance Habits: #6 Demonstrate Courage 2 (part 16 of 22)

Practice Two: Share Your Truth and Ambitions

In The Motivation Manifesto, I argued that it is the main motivation of humankind to be free, to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction – to experience what my be called personal freedom. Our spirits share when we feel unencumbered by fear or the weight of conformity. When we live our truth – expressing who we really are, how we really feel, what we really desire and dream of – then we are authentic; we are free. This requires courage.

But for anyone who doubts or diminishes you, forget about it. Don’t bother trying to please them. Live a life that is yours. Don’t seek the approval of the doubters. You’ll find no lasting joy in seeking acknowledgement from others. If it comes, it’ll never be enough. So the only path left is to express your own truth and pursue your own dreams.

Minimizing Ourselves

One thing I didn’t expect from readers of The Motivation Manifesto was a different kind of fear in sharing their truth. Many people wrote in and said they weren’t worried that others would judge them as insufficient; they were worried that by being their best, they would make others feel insufficient. They were fearful of expressing their true ambitions, joy, and powers, because the people around them could feel bad about themselves.

They felt they had to minimize their dreams, keep their big ideas bottled up, dumb themselves down, tone it down, look down – all so others could feel good about themselves.

So please stay with me. I have no doubt that accessing the next level of courage in your life requires a new degree of openness and honesty about who you are, what you want, and what you’re really capable of and ready to do. All that stands in your way is that fearful part of you that feels like minimizing yourself so that you don’t make others feel bad. But don’t for one minute think that’s humility. That’s lying about your real ambitions. That’s apologizing for the gifts that God, the universe, fortune, or hard work – take your pick – blessed you with. And it’s insidious. Unless you choose to let it go, that fear will forever prevent you from feeling truly authentic and fulfilled and living out your real potential. It will drive you to lower your sights and miss out on excellence – and for what, exactly?

You may think, People will be threatened by my drive and desire. They might not like my ambitions. They might make fun of me. So I’d best keep quiet. It’s better to downgrade my ambition or work ethic, anyway.

I’ve heard every version and permutation of that misbegotten idea. But I want to say it again and etch it on your mind: This kind of thinking is not humility, my friend. It’s fear. It’s lying. It’s suppressing. It’s adolescent concern. And it will destroy any real aliveness and authenticity in your relationships. I know, it may feel better in the short term to minimize yourself so someone else can feel good about themselves, but consider this: No one wants to be in connection with a fake person. 

Look. If you’re gulping back your real thoughts and dreams just to “fit in” or make others feel better, then you can’t blame them or anyone else. Because it’s you choking yourself. And while you’re at it, you’re squeezing the life out of your relationships.

No one can quiet you without your permission. No one can minimize your self-image but you. And no one can up you up and release your full power but you.

You can always blame “them” for your failure to be real and vulnerable. Or you can choose this very day to start speaking up and living in full, even though some may not like it. Will some people make fun of you? Might a person you love doubt you ar leave you? Could your teammates call you crazy and marginalize you? Can your neighbors or fans turn on you for wanting “more than you deserve?” To each of these questions, yes. But which is nobler: falling dutifully in line with what everyone wants, or speaking up for what’s right for you? Ultimately, you must ask which your life is about: fear or freedom? One choice is the cage. The other – that’s courage.

I see this all the time. A successful person fails to achieve the next level of success because they chose to strive in silence. They don’t want to share or speak up. They’re trying to be “appropriate,” “realistic,” “level-headed.” They’re trying to make others “happy” or “comfortable.” And so they have these brilliant ideas, and not only do they not share them, they make the most lethal mistake of all: They don’t ask for help. If you don’t ask for help, the right people can’t come into your life. So if the universe isn’t giving you was you want, perhaps it’s because amid all your distractions and silence, the universe just doesn’t know what you’re asking for.

The people who are in your life for the right reasons will list to your truth. They’ll applaud your ambition. They’ll be happy to meet the person behind the face. They’ll thank you for sharing, for being real, for trusting them. Trust others with your truth, and the golden values of real friendship and love reveal themselves like lost treasures.

To find even more courage, remind yourself that you owe it to those who have supported you in the past. Stay strong in recognition of the strength they have given you. As a gift to all those who have been good to you, don’t complain; act. Don’t criticize; cheerlead. Don’t conform; live your truth. Don’t be selfish; serve. Don’t take the easy path; strive for growth and an extraordinary life.

The Simple Conversations

The most important thing in connecting authentically with others is to share your true desires with them. They don’t have to approve or help or even brainstorm with you. This isn’t about them. This is about you having the courage to open to others just as the universe remains open to you. Try it. Each day, reveal to others a little bit more of what you’re thinking, feeling, dreaming of. Even if you don’t get the immediate support of the humans in front of you, who knows? Perhaps a distant force is unlocked and the necessary ripples in time and luck and destiny converge and deliver to your door a hint about the next step – a treasure map of sorts, unearthed by your own courage.

This habit doesn’t take shape by a single momentous conversation with everyone you know. You don’t have to sit everyone you love down and tell them all the reasons you’ve been holding back from them and from life. You don’t have to shoot a video explaining your entire life and philosophy. Instead, just make it daily practice to be sharing your thoughts and goals and feelings with others. Every day, share something with someone about what you really think and want in life. You could say “You know, honey, today I was thinking about starting X because I’d love to Y.” for example:

  • I was thinking about researching how to write a book, because I think I have a story worth telling.
  • I was thinking about starting to hit the gym every morning, because I’d love to feel more vital and alive.
  • I was thinking about starting to look for another job, because I’d love to feel more passionate and appreciated.
  • I was thinking about starting to cold-call some new coaches, because I’m ready to compete at a higher level.

These are simple statements. It’s a simple formula. What do you want to share? Whatever it is, share it. Then take bold action each day to bring it to reality.

PERFORMANCE PROMPTS

  1. Something I really want todo that I haven’t shared with enough people is …
  2. If I were going to be more “me” in my everyday life, I would start to …
  3. When I put myself out there and someone makes fun of me, I’m just going to …
  4. A major dream I’m going to start telling people about and asking for some help with is …