In his recent Psychology Today article, leadership expert and author Jake Breeden outlined the essential habits of courageous people. Courage, he says, is a way of thinking. According to Breeden, the courageously minded have established thinking patterns that enable them take risks and tolerate uncertainty. They weren’t necessarily born this way, they developed healthy thinking habits.
So what does it take to be courageously minded and what can we learn from them?
Curiosity and courage go together
A curious mind loves to learn. Courageous thinkers seek out people with different perspectives and cultural ideologies because they are interested and want to learn from others. They’re at ease with perspectives that differ from their own. Additionally, they appreciate unpopular narratives and art and literature that reflect uncomfortable truths.
“Timid people surround themselves with those who validate their way of thinking,” says Breeden, whereas courageous thinkers are open-minded. The courageously minded embrace diversity, challenge, and paradox because there’s always something new to learn.
Challenge, confusion, and uncertainty are good for you
Challenge and uncertainty go hand in hand. When it comes to ambiguity, most people feel anxious. But courageous minds view the unknown as an opportunity to learn and grow.
“Confusion,” says Breeden, is a “growing pain” for the developing brain. A courageous mind is curious and willing to explore an uncertain path without a clear outcome. Learning, growth, and challenge are all interconnected.
Be willing to be alone or unpopular
Courageous thinkers don’t need the approval of others to pursue what they think is right or what’s important to them. This doesn’t mean they’re narcissistic; it means they’re autonomous.
They are happy in the company of others. They’re open to input and feedback, but they don’t rely on other people’s acceptance to feel good about themselves. They’re not desperate to be liked.
The courageously minded not afraid to spend time alone, to reflect or learn. They aren’t addicted to the constant distractions of TV, Internet or the latest apps.
Gray is okay
“Carpenters are taught to measure twice and cut once,” Breeden says. Courageous thinkers aren’t rash; rather, they make considered decisions. Once they decide on a course of action, however, they commit and follow through.
Courageous thinkers don’t get locked into black and white, either/or scenarios. According to Breeden, “Brave brains see the world as an interconnected system of paradoxes.” They’re comfortable with seemingly contrasting ideas—life’s gray areas. They look for the “and” of all things.
This allows them to be flexible yet decisive.
Courageous thinkers are self-aware. They know themselves. They take time for self-reflection, so they’re aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses. They’re also confident they can overcome their shortcomings. Confidence also gives them the ability to reach out to others for input, feedback and support to meet their goals.
Whether 2016 is your year to be braver and bolder or you’re wanting to help a child develop courage or confidence, remember: Curiosity develops courage, and courage builds confidence.
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