The idea of courage can mean different things to different people. For some, it means leaving a relationship that isn’t working out. For others, it means quitting a job to follow a dream. While courage can mean many things, one central theme unites us all--being courageous sets us free.

New advances from different scientific fields are helping us understand how the brain and body function and how our whole being, from the brain down, impacts our ability to lead. Being courageous in the workplace is required if we are going to inspire a new generation to be more thoughtful, more compassionate, and more innovative.

The Science Of Fear And Courage 

Neuroscience holds the key to understanding why we feel fear. After all, humans don’t face the same dangers we once did. Most of us never have to worry about being eaten by a predator or trying to survive without vaccines and antibiotics.

A recent study in mice found two areas of the brain that can set off varying reactions when threats are perceived. Sometimes the mice would freeze or hide, and sometimes the mice would stand their ground. The authors postulate that humans share some of this circuitry, and finding ways to shift these signals could help people who suffer from anxiety, PTSD, and severe phobias.1

The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage. 


5 Ways To Increase Courage

Increasing courage will have effects that ripple into other aspects of your life, sometimes in areas you could never have imagined. Consider these 5 tips to open the door to a more courageous you.

  1. Say “I love you”. You can show love in many ways, and finding the courage to show this love can open up a world of possibilities. Love fuels collaboration and gives people the courage to seek more and be more.
  2. Try something new at dinner. We tend to eat the same meals over and over, and we find comfort in doing so. Instead of always ordered the same chicken salad, branch out and try something new.
  3. Cross off some of your bucket list items. Adventure is another word that varies for people. Is there something on your bucket list that seems like an unobtainable adventure? Take the time to follow through rather than settling for life as usual.
  4. Embrace technology. If you’ve ever seen any of the Terminator movies, embracing robotics doesn’t seem like such a grand idea. In reality, tiny nanobots are increasing the speed, comfort and cost of medical procedures. We should not automatically dismiss technology because we are afraid or do not understand it.
  5. Face your fears. Fears and phobias can have an enormous impact on a person’s life and wellbeing. Finding coping mechanisms and seeking proper treatment can greatly improve the quality of life for someone affected by phobias.

Courage may be different for everyone, but it sets each of us free in our own ways. Learning to manage fears or taking the time to learn something new are small steps that can lead to a life of increased courage and collaboration. We can all summon our courage and deploy it to generate the outcomes we desire and dream of.

1. Salay LD, Ishiko N, Huberman AD. A midline thalamic circuit determines reactions to visual threat. Nature. 2018;557(7704): 183-189. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0078-2.

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