Leadership thoughts: 6 tips for growing your courage
In today’s post, Carlee Stellfox Loya, Regional Manager USA West, Canada West, and Mexico, shares her top tips for developing courage and taking your career to the next level in 2019.
I joined GetYourGuide in 2017 as Regional Manager in the brand new San Francisco office, my basement. I was the first employee in San Francisco, with an ocean of opportunity in front of me and 10 good routes with which to start. Picking what I hoped would bring the biggest impact the fastest was a little like jumping into the deep end of a pool without a life jacket. Now, 18 months later, the San Francisco office is a packed house of 12 in a real office space, and our ocean of opportunity is bigger than ever.
With big ambitions and bold initiatives set for 2019, we are certainly going to encounter the new, unknown, and uncertain. When the data is inconclusive, when the prioritization is up to you, when the outcomes are bullish, we must lean into an essential part of a growth mindset: courage. Courage is a prerequisite for cultivating a growth mindset. Pushing yourself to the point where you need courage, means you’re on the right growth track. But is courage a behavior or a skill? Courage can be both, depending on how practiced you are. At first, courage is a behavior – a willingness to try something new, to take a risk. Then, as you practice courage over time, it becomes a skill.
During my time at GetYourGuide, I’ve had ample opportunity to grow my courage and increase the impact of my work.
Here are six tips for growing your courage this year so you can conquer the new, unknown, and uncertain:
1. Embrace clarity of intention when clarity of instruction is fuzzy.
You might not always get the type of clarity that provides a clear, step-by-step plan on how to complete your project or accomplish your goal. This is often the case with tasks that fall within the category of new, unknown, or uncertain. Don’t wait for clarity of instruction when it’s never going to arrive. Instead, seek clarity of intention and keep going! Clarity of intention is about knowing the outcome you hope to achieve and setting the intention to get there.
In my work, the new often comes in the form of something I’ve done before, but not at GetYourGuide-speed. Last fall, the little San Francisco team of 2018 set a goal of hiring 8 A-players in 8 weeks, sourcing from our networks. Through the 8 weeks, we brainstormed, pivoted, tailored, adjusted this bit or that bit, started over, and re-structured, all while continuing to lean into our goal. Clarity of intention and a laser focus on the outcome ensured we executed on exactly what we set out to do: hiring and training a team who would drive our regional growth to the next level.
2. Improve your success memory.
Growing courage from behavior to skill requires you to recognize when your courage worked, but that’s hard to do if you don’t recognize your own successes. Two things stand in the way: hiding behind your team when you’re uncomfortable taking the credit, when “we achieved” should be “I achieved”, and failing to tell others about your success. Own your wins. Don’t dismiss wins by diluting them. This can feel awkward at first, but it’s important. Then, once you’ve owned the wins, share them. Find your high-five friends. Maybe it’s your manager or maybe it’s your friends in another department. Sharing your wins with others builds a group you can go to whenever you need to be reminded of your courage.
3. Grow your preparedness to be wrong.
I tell my team my formula for courage is having the confidence to go boldly into my work while being totally prepared to be wrong. Being prepared to be wrong means my flops and failures and even-better-ifs do not impact my self-confidence, self-worth, or knowledge of my value in the organization. When you know you can pivot quickly in the face of failure, my friends, there is nothing you can’t do.
4. Intentionally seek a comfort zone of progress rather than success.
We all love to be successful, but if your comfort zone, or when you are most satisfied at work, comes from a place of feeling successful, you will only set small goals. Try instead to intentionally seek out a comfort zone of progress rather than achievement. This way, you will be most satisfied at work when you are getting better. You will strive for bigger goals and greater risks - what great fuel for your courage!
5. Let go of the need to please.
High achievers have been pleasing people since the start of Kindergarten. It’s part of the narrative we tell ourselves about who we are, and it can be hard to disrupt that narrative when growth feedback or a tough challenge requires us to risk not pleasing someone.
Anyone with me here?
If you identify with this, I challenge you to practice vulnerability with the person you’re afraid of disappointing. Imagine the alliance that could come from a conversation with your manager that starts with, “I feel I’m not achieving as much as I could because I’m afraid of letting you down.” Walk that road together. You might find a kindred spirit.
6. Study the courage of people you admire.
Make it a habit to notice the courage of others and let that learning resonate in a practical way. One thing I love about GYG is my global network of role models. I often think, “Oh, I like how that person handled that,” or, “I’m totally copying that phrase.” I’ve become a student of my role models, and I lean on what they’ve taught me when I encounter the new, unknown, and uncertain. One of my favorite phrases, “this is simply a headwind,” I confess I actually learned from Jo, our Regional Manager in London. A lot of the reasonable things I say, I’ve learned.
Give yourself grace. Practicing courage can be nerve-wracking, but you can do it!
Let’s commit to practicing courage this year. By flexing this growth mindset muscle, you will remember 2019 as the year courage became one of your strongest skills. Results you’ve never imagined will follow.