Derek Coburn is author of Networking Is Not Working and the co-founder and CEO of CADRE, an un-networking community in Washington, DC, which currently supports over 100 CEOs and business leaders.

Derek began his career in the financial services industry. When the economy took a turn for the worse, he had to devote more attention to his existing clients and had less time for “traditional networking”. That sparked an idea, and he began to create an informal “un-networking” group consisting of his best clients and other top professionals. Derek’s passion for connecting remarkable professionals led him to start CADRE and write his first book.

As an out-of-the box, entrepreneurial, ADD diagnosed teenager, Derek started a comic book business that had him earning thousands of dollars a month while in high school. His ability to choose love over fear afforded him a successful career in the financial services industry and has flourished into writing a book and creating an un-network for hundreds of CEOs and business leaders.

Derek is an incredible example of how courage stretches.

You are growing up in a world that is becoming increasingly competitive and comparative. It is easy to for you – for any of us – to believe that the ones who have found success or happiness are better than, stronger than, smarter than, or privy to something magical – certain strengths or qualities that are reserved for the lucky few. The truth is that none of us are born with the ‘success’ gene or the ‘happiness gene’. There are many things that lead to success and happiness, but one of the most powerful of these is courage. 

Behind so many brilliant successes are failures, rejections, and unexpected turns. Often many. Without exception, there is also courage. Mountains of courage. Courage to keep going, to find a different way, and of course the courage to try in the first place. 

One of the most important things for you to know is that courage doesn’t always feel like courage. From the outside, courage often looks impressive and powerful and self-assured. Sometimes it might look reckless or thrilling. From the inside though, it can feel frightening and unpredictable. It can feel like anxiety, or fear, or rolling self-doubt. Courage can be a trickster like that: it often looks different from the outside to the way you would expect it to feel on the inside. This is because courage and fear always exist together. It can’t be any other way. If there is no fear, there is no need for courage. 

Courage isn’t about something magical that happens inside you to make you “not scared.” It’s about something magical that happens inside you to make you push through fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and do the things that feel hard or risky or frightening. Sometimes, courage only has to happen for seconds at a time – just long enough to be brave enough. 

There’s something else that you need to know about courage: you don’t always see the effects of it straight away. Courage might mean being kind to the new kid in class, trying something new, speaking up for someone or something you believe in. Often, these things don’t come with fireworks or applause. In fact, they rarely do. The differences they make can take time to reveal, but when actions are driven by courage, the differences those actions make will always be there, gently taking shape and changing their very important corners of the world in some way. 

Comfort zones are beautiful things but nothing ever grows there. Sometimes “safe and certain” might be the perfect place for you to be, but so much growth and the things that will enrich you will happen when you let go of the handrail, even if just for seconds at a time.


Here are some things to think about to nurture your own courage:

Give yourself permission for imperfection. 
Failure and rejection are often a sign that you’ve done something brave. Every experience gives you new information and new wisdom that wouldn’t have been there before. It’s why only the brave ones get there in the end – they have the knowledge, wisdom, and experience that can often only be found when you land badly – sometimes more than once. Give yourself space for imperfection – it’s a growth staple.

You won’t always feel ready. That’s why it’s brave.
It’s okay to hang on while you’re getting comfortable – while you are working on a plan, fanning the brave spark inside of you (and it’s always inside you), but then there will be a time to let go. When this time comes, it won’t always feel like readiness or certainty. That’s what makes it brave. And a little bit magical.

Try something new.
Do something that pushes you to the edges of your physical or emotional self: drama, sport, music, public speaking, serving someone in need. Anything that will help to nurture the truth to life that you are strong, powerful, that you can cope, and that you are not as fragile as you might feel sometimes will help to nurture your brave heart.

Give yourself space for courage of thought. 
Courage isn’t only about pushing against your own edges. Sometimes it’s about pushing against the friends who might steer you off track, the limiting expectations of others, the media, the majority, the world. Too many times, creative, change-making, beautifully open minds have been shut down in the name of compliance. There is nothing wrong with questioning – it opens hearts, minds, and mouths – and what’s important is that the questioning is done respectfully. One of the reasons the world is capable of great things is because young minds who are brave enough to challenge the way things are and to want something better grow into adults minds who make it happen. Ask for the opinions of people older than you and let them know they can disagree with yours. Some of the world’s very ideas have often started with small ideas that made no sense at all at the time.

Talk to yourself.
Self-talk is one of the biggest ways you stop yourself from venturing outside of our limits. Self-talk can be automatic and barely noticeable, but so limiting. They can be persuasive little ponies that put courage in a box for a while. However scared you might feel, or whatever you might be telling yourself about how much you “cant,” you will always be braver than you think you are. Brave can be a thought, a feeling, or an action. You can do brave even if you don’t think it or feel it. If you don’t feel brave enough or believe you are brave enough, you just have to act as though you are. Your body and your brain won’t know the difference. Brave is brave, however much fear and self-doubt is behind it.  

It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to change direction, change friends, or change your mind. It’s so easy for courage to turn cold when a decision or choice feels final. All experiences bring new wisdom, and if that new wisdom means the decision stops feeling right, that’s okay. There will a plan B, a back door, a way out or a way back up.

But first comes the brave decision to start.

Choose love over fear.

Choose courage.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

Question: In what area(s) of your life do you find yourself the most fearful and in need of courage?

Leave a Reply