If the COVID pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that despite our best intentions nothing in life is secure.
Besides birth and death, security, as it has been dramatically shown to us, is an illusion. Insecurity is the reality.
Our livelihoods, our careers, our homes, our way of life have been turned upside down. Our sense of who we are, what we do, how we do it, is in question. This virus not only attacks our physical health and threatens our lives, it also attacks our mental health and undermines our emotional stability.
It has revealed our vulnerabilities on a personal level, relationship level, community level, national level, even global level.
It has revealed our vulnerabilities on a financial level, healthcare level, employment level, even national security level.
Unemployment around the world is at Great Depression numbers, which some analysts predict will go even higher. National and international border closures have dramatically disrupted chains of supply. Mental health issues brought on by job losses, financial ruin, and forced isolation have climbed. Anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm are rising at a faster rate than compared with previous years before the pandemic began.
It takes courage to face down your insecurities and develop strategies to overcome your problems. It takes courage to face your fears and continue to live the best way possible. We especially need a lot of courage during this pandemic when fear and anxiety are just as virulent as Covid-19 itself.
Yet, courage is not out of reach. Courage is not just for the brave, for others. Courage is within your grasp.
As M. Scott Peck wrote in his bestselling book, The Road Less Traveled:
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future.”
Thankfully, as a human being, you have an abundance of courage. You have the inner power to move out against your fears into the unknown and into the future. Like humans have always done in every crisis.
We show courage when we go into lockdown for weeks at a time to stop the spread of the virus, not only as individuals but as communities and nations. We show not only courage, but also ingenuity and collaboration, when we galvanise our efforts to hunt down and develop a vaccine for Covid-19. We show courage when we have faith that this too shall pass, that the world will rebuild and renew itself and that the future still holds the promise of joy, hope, love, and even peace and freedom.
So, yes, this pandemic has taught us that nothing in life is secure, that insecurity is the ‘new normal’ (if in fact this is actually ‘new’ at all, or that it’s just more obvious to us now that we’ve been forcibly and rudely shaken awake to what we thought was real and made to see what is not), but it’s also revealed something else, something wonderful and truly marvelous:
Human courage is already there—it’s already inside us, as us. It’s who we are.
So if courage is what you want, you already have what you’re looking for. All you need to do is tap into it.
And one of the best ways to tap into your courage is to broaden your SCOPE.
SCOPE: Courage and Confidence—Cause. Persistence. Self-Worth.
In my article, Why Success in Anything You Do Depends on Your SCOPE (and Your Failure Too), I introduced the concept of broadening your SCOPE to develop the success habit of completion. Namely, the habits of:
C: Courage and Confidence
O: Other People Thinking
P: Planning, Preparation and Perseverance
E: Energy, Effort and Enthusiasm
We discussed the first step to broaden your SCOPE, and thus transform your failures into success, is to build your faith muscle—your self-assuredness—which you do by:
- Clarifying Your Vision—your “I am”
- Amplifying Your Success Attitude—your “I will”
- Building Your Self-Belief—your “I can”
All three traits—I am, I will, I can—build your faith in who you want to be and what you want to do. When you use it like a mantra—”I am! I will! I can!”—and repeat it in the gymnasium of your mind, the stronger your faith muscle becomes, the firmer your self-assuredness.
In a sense, your vision, attitude, and belief are keys to unlocking your sense of optimism for who and what you can become. As Hellen Keller reminded us:
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”
So if you want to be successful, if you want to achieve things, you need a good dose of optimism and faith, which is what we’ve been defining as self-assuredness.
Successful people have healthy doses of self-assuredness. They also have healthy doses of courage and confidence, which we’ll be discussing in this article. Courage and confidence are linked to self-assuredness and self-belief in a two-way stream, where each reinforces the other (as do, in fact, all 5 aspects of your SCOPE).
I mentioned just a moment ago the need to tap into your courage during these uncertain and insecure times, and in a previous article, Everything Begins With Who, What, Why, How: Why Everything Begins With Clarity of Vision, I also mention how confidence is a game-changer for those seeking to be successful and desiring to grow into the person want to be. Like self-assuredness, those who are successful tend to have it. Those with limited success tend not to have it.
Confidence develops with the clear vision of who you are, what you want to do, why you do it, and how you do it, and it grows in magnitude with the courage to be the person you want to be. It’s hard to be confident without courage, without making action in spite of your fears, yet it’s also hard to be courageous without confidence. They are symbiotic.
An individual’s trust in their own abilities, capacities, and judgments, or belief that they can successfully face day-to-day challenges and demands.
Essentially, there are 3 main types of confidence that, as the successful person you intend to be, you will need to be mindful of and seek to develop:
- Belief in your abilities—the confidence that your skills and abilities will handle most, if not all, future scenarios and find solutions to problems that will enable you to progressively realise your worthy goal (i.e. your cause).
- Belief in the outcome—the confidence that you will achieve the outcome you want, as long as you keep persisting and persevering.
- Belief in your efforts—the confidence in the Law of Cause and Effect, that your efforts (causes) are worthy and will be rewarded with the results (effects) you intended.
Developing and growing your courage and confidence is essential if your intent is to be more successful. You need courage and confidence to take action and do the things you need to do to progressively realise your worthy goal, despite the obstacles, fears, and insecurities in your way. Without courage and confidence, you probably won’t take this necessary action, or if you do it will be half-hearted and likely to run out of steam before anything meaningful is achieved.
Which is why developing your courage and confidence is the second step in broadening your SCOPE, and this you do by:
- #1: Identifying Your Worthy Cause—your ‘I am’
- #2: Maintaining and Sustaining Your Persistence—your ‘I will’
- #3: Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth)—your ‘I can’
Just as these traits—I am, I will, I can—build your faith in who you want to be and what you want to do, they also build your courage and confidence to begin your journey of success and to keep going when the going gets tough.
Get started. Keep going. Renew and grow.
That’s courage and confidence. That’s success.
#1: Identifying Your Worthy Cause – I Am
When you know what you want to achieve, you know what you must become in order to achieve it.
Want to help find a cure for cancer? Then you’ll need to become a doctor or nurse to treat patients with cancer, or a scientific researcher to organise the studies and examine the data, or a philanthropist to fund the research.
Want to help eradicate worldwide poverty, hunger or suffering? Then you’ll need to align yourself with a charity like World Vision or Doctors Without Borders, or become involved with international organisations like the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Or maybe you want to act more locally and support those most vulnerable in your community, like the elderly, disabled, homeless, disadvantaged minorities, abused children. Then you’ll need to become a healthcare worker, or social worker, or counselor, or even a volunteer at your local community or religious centre. You might even consider becoming a lawyer and dedicate yourself to advocating for disadvantaged groups.
You might want to educate underprivileged teenagers, or share the word of God, or deliver babies. Then you’ll need to become a teacher, or preacher, or midwife.
Or you might just wish to create works of art that reflect the goodness, truth and beauty you see in the world, or write an inspirational book, or compose and play music that lifts the emotions of those who hear your lyrics and tunes. Then you’ll need to become a painter, writer, or pianist.
Or you might just want to become a mother or father, wife or husband or partner, and create a home in which love, happiness, good memories, and optimism grow and abound like a well-tended garden. Then you must become a person of value, wisdom, patience, self-sacrifice, and dedication.
You see, the worthiness of a cause is directly related to how much you dedicate it to the service of others and create value for them, even if it’s just one person other than yourself. It isn’t how many people you serve that determines how worthy your goal is, it is the act of using every moment to create and add value for someone other than yourself.
That’s how you build worth and become worthy, it’s how you become a person of value and live a life of happiness and fulfillment.
It isn’t any more complicated than that:
It is the giving of yourself to others—your service—that determines your value and worthiness, your success.
There are therefore just as many worthy causes as there are people on the planet, because each worthy cause is based on your individual and unique service to other people.
You will do your best and be successful when you realise you’re not an island isolated from others and need to do it all by yourself, when you realise we’re all interdependent on one another and the best way forward is to support each other whether in business and work, or in your relationships and family.
Yet, most people don’t do this. They are only interested in serving themselves. For whatever reason—fear, ignorance, shame, greed—they have not developed the courage or confidence to become anything other than someone who takes direction from their baser instincts. They become slaves to their whims and desires; they become self-serving and thereby live a life of selfishness, greed, addictiveness, neediness, and futility. A life of untapped potential and unmined value. A life not worthy of their talents or indeed themselves.
Which is why it is vital to set yourself a goal to achieve, a port to which you want to sail. Because without it you are no use to yourself, and if you’re no use to yourself you’re not going to be of any use to others. You won’t be able to serve others to the best of your ability, and you won’t find the success or happiness you’re looking for.
As David J. Schwartz, author of the bestselling book The Magic of Thinking Big, said:
“The individual who fails to set long-range goals will most certainly be just another person lost in life’s struggle. Without goals we cannot grow.”
So get your thinking cap on, get a pen and piece of paper, and start writing down what you want to achieve. Start mapping out a route to the destination you want to go to.
And while you’re at it, make it worth your while—make it a worthy goal. Align your goal with serving others and creating value for them. Make it your cause to which you devote your life.
Then make a start on it.
#2: Maintain and Sustain Your Persistence – I Will
The beneficial side effects of identifying your worthy cause and making a start on it are tangible and intangible. They are both objective and subjective, physical and mental.
The tangible side effects of striving toward you worthy cause have physical components and actually have positive, measurable effects on your health.
Researchers have shown that people who set goals and work towards them have better health outcomes than those who don’t:
- They sleep better
- They have a lower risk of heart problems
- They have better functioning with aging
- They even have a 20% lower risk of death¹
In fact, those that don’t have a worthy cause to which they are striving to achieve, have worse health outcomes and increased vulnerability to boredom, substance abuse, anxiety, and even depression.
One of the intangible side effects includes the resultant happiness you get from striving toward your worthy goal. So too courage and confidence.
Happiness, courage and confidence are intangible side effects because they are purely subjective; only you can experience them. Others may notice your smiling face, or steadfast demeanor, or determined resolve, but only you feel the depths of these feelings.
There are other intangible side effects too, which include a greater sense of inner peace and fulfillment, joy, hope, enthusiasm, lightness of being, optimism, anticipation, self-respect, greater energy, balance and harmony.
What’s more, your worthy cause also gives you a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
Meaning and purpose also have a knock-on effect: they give you drive, determination, intent, perseverance, persistence.
With your worthy cause in your heart, you develop a “Never say die” attitude in your head.
Successful people never give up. Even when all else seems futile, when the whole world seems to be conspiring against them, they keep going. They keep putting one foot ahead of the other, always moving forward, never stopping. They are climbing their mountain and they won’t give up until they reach the summit, no matter the cost.
In 2015 I attended a private business conference in Sydney, Australia, and during that conference I met the 64th Australian to successfully climb to the summit of Mt Everest. He was a colleague of the organiser of the event and had been invited to speak to the audience about his experience of climbing the highest mountain on earth, a feat achieved by less than 5,500 people (*as of the beginning of 2019).
He spoke of years of preparation and training to tackle the mountain. Of unbelievable obstacles, freezing conditions and furious winds, of altitude sickness, despair and injury. He spoke of avalanches and seemingly bottomless chasms of ice into which previous climbers had fallen and were never seen again, of tying 3 or 4 ladders end to end and using this makeshift bridge to cross hands and knees to the other side. And he spoke of the final triumph over the mountain.
But it was his depiction of the final attempt to reach the summit that I remember most clearly. He talked of the peak of the mountain as taunting the climbers, of making them believe they were closer than they think. Then, just as they thought they were nearing the top, the mountain appeared to move further away. It was as paradoxical as it was soul-destroying: the nearer he got to the peak, the more it seemed to move away from him.
It was at this moment, just as he was about to reach the peak and realise his dream, that another mountain, the mountain of self-doubt, reared in front of him, seemingly as insurmountable as Everest itself. At this moment, with the freezing air chilling him to the bone, his oxygen supplies running low, all he could do was focus on his feet trudging through the ice, putting one boot ahead of the other.
“I couldn’t do anything else,” he said, “other than focus at putting one step at a time.”
He could have given up at any point along the climb. But he didn’t. He was ultimately successful in conquering Everest, and his story is a great metaphor for the mountains we all set ourselves to climb. Like a marathon, climbing Everest comes down to the simplest, yet one of the most difficult, things we learned to do as a toddler: putting one foot ahead of the other.
There are 4 takeaways from this story of ultimate success I like to bring people’s attention to:
- Set yourself a mountain to climb, your Everest—identify your worthy cause.
- Plan and prepare—you don’t just turn up at base camp and start hiking up the mountain; you need to plan how you will conquer your mighty goals.
- Put one foot ahead of the other—sometimes that’s all you can do, but it’ll get you to the top.
- Keep going—maintain and sustain your persistence, even when your goal taunts you and seems to be moving away from you the closer you get.
As Winston Churchill said when he visited Harrow School, his alma mater, in 1941:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
In other words, set your course and keep going no matter what.
#3: Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth) – I Can
Successful people have a deep sense of self-worth. Unsuccessful people tend to have a shallow sense of self-worth.
Successful people know their value. Unsuccessful people don’t know their value.
Successful people trust themselves and don’t rely on others or their circumstances to determine their sense of value and worth. Unsuccessful people invariably don’t trust themselves and therefore rely on other people and circumstances to determine their perceived value and worth.
Knowing your value and self-worth feeds into your self-belief. The more self-belief you have, the more you believe you can do it. The more you believe you can do it, the more courage and confidence you have to face down any fears and surmount any obstacle along your path to your worthy cause.
In his audiotapes on Insight, Earl Nightingale, author and motivational speaker on the subjects of personal success, character, and meaningful existence, said:
“Our minds, our abilities, our talents, and time represent our true wealth… and it’s the investment of our wealth that will determine our rate of return.”
Do you know what assets you already have? Do you know the value of those assets? Are you investing the wealth you already have and maximising your rate of return?
Growth leads to renewal, which is a sign of life. Stagnation leads to decay, which is a sign of death.
So if you’re not using the assets of your mind, abilities, talents, and time, or you’re not investing your innate wealth to progressively realise your worthy cause, your value isn’t growing or being renewed.
You’re not growing if you’re not renewing, and you’re not successful if you’re not growing.
Let’s do a stocktake of the assets you already have and briefly discuss each in turn.
#1: Your Gold Mind
Are you aware of the gold mine that is your mind? You could, in fact, call it your ‘gold mind’.
A version of one of Aesop’s Fables, The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, tells of a cottager and his wife who had a goose that laid a golden egg every day. They figured a great nugget of gold must be contained within the goose, and in their greed they decided to kill the goose to get the gold. But to their surprise, they found the goose was no different from their other geese. The foolish cottager and his wife had hoped to become rich all at once, yet all they had managed to do was deprive themselves of the riches they were assured each day if they had remained patient.
This fable about the short-sighted destruction of a valuable resource is a good analogy for the wasted resource of our mind. Like the golden goose, our minds have the ability to produce golden eggs—ideas. Your golden ideas are produced in the imagination factory of your gold mind (*read here to learn how to utilise your imagination superpower).
But how often are you using your imagination to produce golden ideas? What’s stopping you?
You see, you already have what you’re looking for; and when you tap into your gold mine, you’ll discover a rich vein of ideas that, when utilised, will help you solve problems and find solutions to achieve your worthy goals.
#2: Your Abilities and Skillsets
Are you aware of all your abilities and skillsets? How many of your abilities are dormant and unused?
Recently, a fox decided to pay a visit to my chickens. I have a property on several acres in the hills of Adelaide, South Australia, in which we allow our chickens to roam free-range around the house and garden. Not too far, mind you, because foxes, snakes and ferral cats enjoy the company of chickens too.
On the day the fox came, one of the chickens learned a skill it didn’t know it had—it could fly.
When the fox charged out of the bushes, the frightened chickens sprinted in all directions as if their life depended on it. It did.
The fox took a liking to one particular chicken and sprinted for it across the grass in a blur of orange. The chicken, barely managing to keep just ahead of the fox’s snapping jaws, suddenly came to the end of the garden where it abruptly dropped in a steep slope to the bottom of the hill. With nowhere to go, it did the only thing it could: it took off into the vacant airspace like a strike-fighter FA-18 Hornet taking off from an aircraft carrier. And stricken with fear, it kept flapping and flying as if it were the most natural thing for a chicken to do.
It flew 60 metres down the hill to a pine tree, where it took refuge from the fox and waited for me to come and collect it and bring it back to the safety of the coop. The fox went to its den hungry that evening.
When I reflected on that incident, it occurred to me that humans are not too unlike chickens—we don’t use our innate skills and abilities until we absolutely have to.
Sometimes, we don’t even know we have those skills and abilities, and it takes a frightening or life-threatening incident to realise what we can actually do.
But why wait for such extreme measures to reveal your hidden abilities?
You already have what you’re looking for, and when you ask it will be given to you; when you seek, you will find; and when you knock, the door will be opened to you.
#3: Your Talents and Gifts
In my book, It’s Up To You! Why Most People Fail to Live the Life they Want and How to Change It, I discuss how your talent is the gift you were born with.
But for a great many of us, being ‘gifted’ is not something we believe we are. We usually associate a gift or incredible talent to others, usually something we consider the reserve of famous actors, writers or sportspeople. It’s not something we normally attribute to ourselves.
Every mother knows that her baby is born with a personality. No two babies come into this world, even from the same mother, with identical personalities. That personality is then moulded in the environment and everyday experiences of childhood and teenage years, and later refined in adulthood.
Talents are like personalities—they come as part of the package when you enter into this world.
Everyone is born with a talent, something they are naturally good at. Here are some talents and gifts that you might identify with:
- The gift of storytelling or playing a musical instrument.
- Understanding numbers or languages.
- A natural talent for sport.
- A talent for acting, dancing or writing.
- Technical or scientific talents.
- The gift of empathy and understanding.
- Creative talents.
- Seeing patterns in nature.
The list of talents is long and varied. Your talents, though, are more than just the result of good genes. They are also not the result of what you have learned through your schooling and environment. Talents transcend genetics and location.
When nurtured with intent and effort, they are the seeds within you that grow into strong skillsets which can, over time, be mastered.
#4: Your Valuable Time
Your mind and your time are your most valuable assets. How you think is your most valuable inner asset, and how you spend time is your most valuable external asset. People who are effective and successful utilise their mind and their time to their maximum capabilities.
Time is more valuable than money. Why? Because, where you can always bank more money, you cannot bank more time. Time is the medium from which money flows and grows, not the other way around: time does not flow from money, and no matter how much money you have you cannot buy yourself more time.
This is because your time is a finite and diminishing asset, which makes it extraordinarily valuable. So you shouldn’t spend time to save money; rather spend money to save time.
But whereas most people see the benefits of having a household or business budget, many do not implement the same care or accountability with their time. They budget their income and expenditure, but they don’t budget their time.
Instead, they waste time or they ‘kill’ time. This is not how successful people utilise their time. They are good time managers. They don’t waste time or kill time, instead they find ways to create more time for themselves and devote to the things they want to do and achieve.
Likewise, if your intent is to increase your effectiveness and achieve your worthy goal, good time-management is essential.
Yet, the best time-managers are the best self-managers. The passage of time is beyond control—irrespective of anything you do, time keeps flowing.
What you can control, however, is how you manage yourself in the time that you have.
“Time management is somewhat a misnomer as time passes without regard to what we do; the only thing we can manage is ourselves.” ~ Wikipedia.org
Good time-management, therefore, is about good self-management.
A great time-management (and self-management) technique is to ask: Where does my time go now?
This is best achieved through a two-step process:
- Time Audit: To find out where you are spending your time now a good idea is to keep a time log for 2-4 days. Write down in half-hour blocks what you have been doing over the past 24-hours. The results will surprise you.
- Identify Time Thieves: The second thing to do is to eliminate time-stealers and time-wasters. The best way to do this is to make a list of your time-stealers and time-wasters at home and at work. The time audit will help you immensely with this. Then write down 1 time-waster that you are committed to eliminating in your life in the next week, and how you will achieve this.
SCOPE: Courage and Confidence Summary
The second step to broaden your SCOPE, and thus transform your failures into success, is to develop your courage and confidence, and this you do by:
- #1: Identifying Your Worthy Cause—your ‘I am’: When you know what you want to achieve, you know what you must become.
- #2: Maintain and Sustain Your Persistence—your ‘I will’: Set yourself a mountain to climb, plan and prepare, put one foot ahead of the other, and keep going.
- #3: Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth)—your ‘I can’: Invest the assets of your mind, abilities, talents, and time and maximise your rate of return.
Get started. Keep going. Renew and grow.
¹ Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Have a sense of purpose in life? It may protect your heart.” ScienceDaily, 2015