A Coaching Power Tool Created by Tan Nguyen
(Executive Coach, AUSTRALIA)
We need the courage to look at fear into the eyes and move forward
We all need the courage to take action and yet fear often finds a way to creep into our journeys.
When I was a kid, senior people usually say ‘no pain no gain’’ (old proverb) which I did not understand by then, as I grew older and went through various experiences in life, this proverb turns out to be making sense. We might like to associate with courage and might choose to hate fear, ironically, they always co-exist and challenge each other for domination of our mind and action. What is most important is which one will take the upper hand in each situation. This realization is critical in our journeys that we need to change the way we think about fear and courage. Courage will require us to have clarity of the fear we are facing, the specific action that we might take, the prospect in both short and long term and most importantly, the achievement and great feeling we will have in the long term if we chose to take the action now.
Courage – the definition (source: internet)
In the context of executive coaching, I would put the courage definition within the area of intellectual.
“Intellectual courage. This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes. It means discerning and telling the truth”
Fear – the definition (source: internet)
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Courage vs Fear – the perspective
Manchester City football club has never hidden their ambition to win the European Champion League. And the arrival of Pep Guardiola, who, never hide his personal ambition to win the European League as well. Manchester city invested and Pep Guardiola built a team that put on the best performance of English football competition for 2 years but for them it would not be satisfied until they win the European Champion League.
On 14 February 2020 Manchester City was banned from the Champion League for 2 years starting 2021 (they are still competing in the European Champion League this season and will face Real Madrid in the knockout stage). This is devastating news for the club, its manager and players, most of them share the same goal of winning the Champion league and to many players, this could mean they will never have a chance to win this prestigious cup in their career. Many predict Pep Guardiola will leave, many players will follow him and that will be the end of an era and it will take decades to rebuild…
What would happen next at Manchester city after European ban? – BBC Sport
Whether they win the Champions League this season or not, will Guardiola decide to move on? And if he does, what about the future of the club’s star players, many of whom joined because he was the manager? – Simon Stone, BBC sports
The key question in my mind is really on the manager Pep Guardiola. What is really going on in his mind? How is he going to manage the team, players or himself? How can he keep motivated (and motivate players) to stay focus now they are facing their biggest fear “fear of losing our dream?”
And when pressure is mounting and no one believes, Manchester City put on a series of impressive wins and one of which is the unbelievable win over Real Madrid in Madrid. The thing that they have never managed in the entire club history.
Pep Guardiola wants Manchester City ‘to believe in themselves’ after winning over Real Madrid – BBC Sport 26 February 2020
And Pep Guardiola chose!!! He chose to focus on their dream which is to win the Champion league and he has crystal clear vision of what this means: ‘this means will give ourselves a chance to win this season and the only way we can do that is to focus on the next game. One at a time’. While this is far from over, I watched the news with joy and warmth in my heart, some by the win but most by the fact that the team decides to confront their fear and have the courage to put on a tremendous performance.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Turn fear into courage and motivation
Many teams in the history of the sport would have faltered under similar situations, which make doubters believe Manchester city and Pep would do the same.
Events like this make me believe that courage and fear are just the two sides of the same coin, they depend on each other to exist. There is no courage without fear and the ability to see through fear. On the other hand, if there is no clarity of what we are dealing with, fear will control and become the major barrier in our journeys. Pep Guardiola clearly sees that their goal remains the same “to win the Champion League” and he clearly sees that people are panic. However, he also sees that their dream is right in front of them: This season. They can win this season, BUT ONLY (and I believe they can) if they put everything they can in the competition and not let the fear control them.
You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.
Realizing the relationship between Courage and fear as well as the benefit of having clarity of fear help us have courage and actions to move forward to our goal. As a coach, our focus should be to help the client have clarity on the followings:
- Goal: it’s critical we help the client clarify the importance of their goal and how that links to their personal values. For me personally, this would mean I need to encourage the client to get under the surface and once defined, help them hold dear to their goal.
- Clarity of opportunities and challenges: with the understanding that courage and fear are the 2 sides of a coin, as a coach we need to help the client uncover the nature of challenges/barriers that have been stopping them and at the same time, encourage them to discover the opportunities associated with moving forward / or sometimes simply associated with the setback. I believe this is an important step to help clients viewing action/steps / making mistake as an opportunity.
- Moving forward: taking small steps forward in the right direction is very important. I think what is more important is to give everything we got to achieve that step, Once achieved, the small step gives clients the confidence to move forward more enthusiastically toward their goals. And most importantly, once the action takes place, fear will step aside. The challenge for the coach is to help the client develop their own small step that leads to their long-term goal.
I personally got inspired by a number of books, of which, I would recommend
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- The Advantage and Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
The following sportsperson or sports team actually gives great insight. Especially during the transition, handling win/loss or under great pressure for results. Follow sports managers like Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola…I have been a great way to learn about fear and courage.