What is courage? It’s not the absence of fear – if you’re not afraid you have no need of courage. Instead, courage is both the presence of fear and the willingness to face that fear. These two feelings coexist within the moment and, together, create what we understand to be one of the most valued of all human traits.
But courage doesn’t include behaving foolishly. If you jump out of a plane without a parachute, you’re not demonstrating courage. If you don’t understand that you’re probably going to die when you hit the ground, you’re simply being foolish. If you know that death is just a few thousand feet below but you jump anyway you’re not courageous, you’re masochistic. Courage requires the understanding of the consequences of action, effort to avoid obvious consequences, and the faith that — if you prepare — things will turn out well.
This is why entrepreneurship is a courageous act. When you leave the security of a regular paycheck behind, offer products and services to the public and hope that customers will be willing to trade their money for what you offer, you’re acting from a place of deep courage and faith. Entrepreneurship takes guts.
The first step in the journey of courage is self-examination. Have you fully examined your offering, evaluating it dispassionately, to see if your products and services are what the market wants? Have you searched for the obvious pitfalls, taking steps to avoid the dangers that you know you will face? And then, once your parachute has been examined and your goggles are in place, can you step to the door of the plane, set your teeth and jump?
This is not a question that any “how-to” article or “10-best” tips can answer. This is something you must find out for yourself. When you begin to pursue something new — when you take the leap into entrepreneurship — you will have days of regret and fear and sadness. You will have customers that piss you off and employees that deeply disappoint. On those days it will be belief in a vision and the courage to work for that outcome that will sustain you. So when you sit down with your blank page and begin to dream about the business you will create, you must ask yourself, “Do I have the skill of courage?”