Inspiring stories of success, joy and refusing retirement from renegades rocking life after 50.

Cindy Solomon

Episode 015 Conscious Courage

Is courage something we’re naturally born with—or something we can learn? Today’s guest, Cindy Solomon of the Courageous Leadership Institute says we can learn it! And given how life is unfolding these days, I personally think it is a skill we should all develop sooner, rather than later.

WATCH THE EPISODE BELOW:

SHOW NOTES:

Favorite Quotes:

“True courage is not being fearless. It’s the ability to take action in spite of that fear.”

“I’m always going to work because I love working and I can’t imagine my life without it.”

“We are kind of in our prime in our 50s and 60s and we need to be making choices that aren’t dictated by the cultural organization of what aging is supposed to look like.”

Favorite Moments From The Interview:

Every time she talked about taking a pause, and taking a breath.

Just DO that one thing, and see what a difference it can make!

Why The Renegade Boomer Community Will Love It:

Because more than ever, we each need to have courage, so together we can become a courageous force for good.

The 4 kinds of courage Cindy details are especially important and thought-provoking.

Because let’s face it—aging isn’t for sissies.

It DOES take courage to keep creating and showing up.

It DOES take courage to overcome stereotypes about age, and push forward anyway.

We don’t have the luxury of hiding out, not if we want to create more impact and stay relevant.

And again, that takes…

COURAGE!

So, let’s consciously choose it. Today’s podcast is the perfect place to start.


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View Transcript

[00:00:00] Tina: Hey everybody, this is Tina Lorenz, and I want to welcome you today to our Renegade Boomer™ podcast. I’m just looking forward to our guest today. I’m so excited. I have to wait some weeks to be able to have her on the schedule.

But Cindy Solomon is here today, and Cindy’s a specialist in courage, and this is something that’s a very timely topic. It’s very personal to me as well with things that have happened in my life, and I think you’ll find it timely for your lives as well.

So she’s the founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute, which in itself is an awesome name. And she calls herself a recovering corporate executive turned leadership consultant, which I highly approve of. And her programs teach a radical new leadership style.

She’s been featured in Inc. Magazine’s “Inc 5,000”, Fast Company’s “Fast 100”, Forbes Magazine, all the top publications among others and author of “The Rules of Woo”, which I’m curious about, and “The Courage Challenge Workbook”.

So welcome, Cindy. Welcome, welcome to the Renegade Boomer™.

[00:00:53] Cindy: Thank you so much, Tina. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:56] Tina: Well, I was just chatting with Cindy for a moment before we began that I was listening to her TEDx Talk. And so first of all, I want to just say right off the bat, be sure you listen to her TEDx Talk because it was really fun and interesting and encouraging and motivating, all of those things.

But one of the things that you said, Cindy, is that your research has shown that only one in three of us believe that we can take courageous action when we need to. So let’s talk about that for a minute because that kind of surprised me a little bit that, who’s going to step up and who isn’t?

[00:01:23] Cindy: Exactly. Yeah, that was kind of a stunning finding for me because I assumed all of us in our heart of hearts realize that every day, we take courageous action. You know, sometimes, for some of us just getting up out of bed is a courageous act for the day.

And so I was really shocked when we got into these significant interviews that are about 60 minutes in length and in person to understand what people thought about courage, how they would describe it in themselves and others, et cetera. And when we really dug down into it, only one in three people believed they were truly courageous.

And for me, that was what really started me down the path of trying to understand why don’t we all understand that we are in fact courageous and that courage is simply a skill that anybody can learn.

[00:02:12] Tina: And one of the things you say is that it’s not about being fearless. You know, we talk about leaning into the fear, or that might be the thing you should do because you’re feeling that nervous jitter.

So, let’s talk about what does that mean that you’re not fearless but you’re also courageous at the same time.

[00:02:26] Cindy: Right. And I do think this is the myth right around courage, is that you’re supposed to be fearless. You should not be nervous. You should not have anxiety. That’s what we’ve been taught “courage” is in the past. But the reality is courage is actually having that fear, having that anxiety. And I think in today’s world, we could call it stress, anxiety, phobia, whatever you might call it at this point in time. But it’s going ahead and having that but then seeing it and making the conscious choice to act.

And there’s a great quote that I use in all of my keynote presentations that says, “True courage is not being fearless. Rather, it’s the ability to take action in spite of that fear.” And I would argue that it’s, you know, fear, stress, anxiety, or uncertainty.

[00:03:15] Tina: Yeah, especially the uncertainty part. I think a lot of us can feel that every single day. All we have to do is just turn on the news for five minutes.

[00:03:21] Cindy: Exactly.

[00:03:21] Tina: Yeah. And I think the other kind of misconception is maybe when we say, well, you know, it is courageous, we’re thinking running towards the fire instead of away from or lifting the car with superhuman strength.

But let’s talk about daily doses of courage. What are some of the things that you define as courageous in regular life?

[00:03:40] Cindy: Oh, oh my gosh. I mean, seriously, I’m not joking when I say sometimes getting up is that courageous act. Sometimes, just getting in the shower and being willing to start your day takes courage.

I think that one of the biggest things that I see, you know, certainly I see this in real life and then I also see it in the corporate work that I do. So when we’re talking to corporate leaders, we spend a lot of time talking about that moment of fear that you get when you’re going to disagree with somebody. Or you’re going to raise your hand in a meeting, or you’re going to choose not to take a meeting because you actually need time to work.

Every time you have that little hit of anxiety, that little hit of stress, that means you’re having a fight or flight reaction. And I think one of the untold consequences of what we’ve gone through during the COVID years is many of us, certainly that’s the most extraordinary thing, I hope, please, unless the zombies show up that any of us will ever have to endure. But we had no idea what was going on. There was no playbook. We were truly fearing for our lives every single day. And that reactivity, that having to react with no playbook, no background, nothing that we knew was going to save us created some pathways in our brains that I think are just pushing us to that reactivity and that fear place constantly.

Then if you look at the media, you know, the whole world’s collapsing every day, right? You know, the media’s training us to be fearful of everything. It’s training us to be fearful of one another.

So, I think in order to create courage for ourselves is to realize that we actually do control not what’s being shoved at us. But we can control our reaction to it. And whether it’s in those everyday, you know, I’ll give myself as an example, this morning it was 18 degrees out. I tried to go for a walk every morning. I was really cranky about it being 18 degrees out. And I was like, “Well, maybe it’s going to be icy. I don’t want to fall and hurt myself.” And I immediately went to that fear place instead of realizing, yeah, no, it’s just cold and you don’t want to go, right?

And so I couldn’t control my first reaction of don’t wanna. But I could make a choice about that second reaction. And I think that’s where the courage comes in. Still having the stress, the fear, the anxiety, or frankly just the don’t want to do it feeling and making a choice to either act or not act.

[00:06:12] Tina: I think what you were mentioning about the whole time of pandemic, all of that, the neural pathways because a lot of science says, well, three weeks, you’ll start creating new neural pathways. Well, we had a couple of years to entrench that superhighway of fear, a new level of fear, right?

[00:06:28] Cindy: Yeah.

[00:06:28] Tina: I think one of the kind of interesting flip the script kind of deal now is now you can be afraid to go and be in a group of people or afraid to go and go ahead and go out there, right?

[00:06:37] Cindy: Right.

[00:06:37] Tina: We kind of got conditioned into, “Okay, here’s my safe place, home,” right?

I just came back from an event where there were over 300 people. And I will totally admit to having some fear and some anxiety about going to an event like that. Yet at the same time, not wanting to say, “Well, that’s it for the rest of our lives. We’re just going to sit here and not go anywhere.”

So how do you help people handle that kind of like, especially in corporate, you know, they’re going to have meetings and going back into the office?

[00:07:00] Cindy: Oh my goodness. I mean, I just spoke at an event a couple of months ago now with 9,000 people. I mean, when you really get out in the world, it’s with very few people, maybe 1.001% of people masked, et cetera.

So, I think there’s a couple of things. I think one is that constant reactivity created habit, and it created a fear habit and it created a need to control. So, if I’m just in my house, I can actually control most unless you have children, most of what’s in your house, right? And so you found a great deal of comfort with that certainty in a world that was truly completely uncertain.

What’s happened now is we’ve created all those mental habits, the fear habit, the reactivity habit, and the need to control in order to feel comfort.

And so, again, you can’t control maybe your first response from those habits, but you can control the second response. And being able to take action in spite of that fear is what starts to allow you to realize that we don’t have to be those people anymore. We actually do have a choice in the matter. And if you’re vaccinated and if you’re not immunocompromised and all of those things, yes, we are as safe as we’re now going to be going into the future. So what choices do you want to make for your life. We’ll never get back to the life we had before, but what do you want this life to look like now?

[00:08:27] Tina: Well, especially, you know, my whole thing that I’m doing is talking with Renegade Boomers™, the Anti-Retirement Movement, people past 50, and for a lot of us, there’s a certain feeling of urgency, you know?

[00:08:38] Cindy: Yeah.

[00:08:39] Tina: We don’t feel like we just have, “Well, you know, in 40 years maybe,” you know, that kind of thing. And so kind of tempering the acts of courage with the feeling of urgency that we don’t have time to fool around anymore or fiddle around. And the pandemic took a big chunk out of time, right?

[00:08:55] Cindy: Yeah.

[00:08:55] Tina: And so, you talk about those little moments of choices. You refer to something called the Courage Strangler, you know.

[00:09:01] Cindy: Right.

[00:09:02] Tina: A distant cousin to the Boston.

[00:09:05] Cindy: Yeah, exactly.

[00:09:06] Tina: But can you talk a little bit about what happens because it’s all happening just in split seconds, right, when we have the fear, have the anxiety, are we going to be courageous, you know, how does that all work when you have that going on?

[00:09:18] Cindy: Well, absolutely. I mean, first of all, so much of it is just a physical reaction. Our ability to move into fight or flight takes less than, I think it’s one one hundredth of a second. So when you get that adrenaline spike, there’s a part of you that’s almost already lost control of the situation. You know, we talk all the time in our corporate programs, but I feel like I want to create a personal program for this as well, about the value of taking a pause, just taking a breath and not allowing those physical reactions to drive whatever happens next to you.

When I say the adrenaline hit, whenever you have that little physical feeling, that little tingle, that means you’ve got some adrenaline going on in your system, and in order for you to control that, to not let it make the decisions for you, you have to take a breath and you have to take a pause and look at what’s going on around you. Am I really in danger? You know, it’s when somebody walks up behind you and scares you. If you allow your fight or flight to take over, you could punch them or hurt them or hit them or fall down or whatever, right? But when you have those little hits, you also have to make a choice about whether you let it control you or not.

So I’m a fan of take a pause and just taking that simple breath, number one. Number two is understanding what is it you’re really afraid of? Is it looking silly? Is it looking stupid?

Let’s go back to my example from this morning. I immediately went to, “I’m going to fall and break a hip,” you know. It’s like, no, it’s I was going to be uncomfortable. And I was kind of worried that it was going to be icy out, and I’m really not actually worried about hurting myself. I’m worried about looking stupid, right? So what am I really worried about? What is the real fear? Is there a real thing here to be afraid of?

And then the third piece is make a choice whether you’re going to allow that to impact, you’re going to let your body take over and control your decision or if you’re going to make a choice.

[00:11:23] Tina: You keep coming back to that, you know, we have to take responsibility. And I always chicken and egg thing: Decision, choice; choice, decision. Which came first? You know. But one of the experiences I had recently because I do podcasts and live videos and all, but when I was sitting in a big group and I was a learner at it, not the leader of it, I found myself having a lot of nervousness about raising my hand and taking the mic and standing up and speaking, right? And it’s like, how can that be when I’m used to doing this in other venues?

So do you think there’s kind of, you know, that comfort of familiarity, “This is the way,” or, “I’m in charge here,” or whatever, versus, “Ooh, I’m in a completely more vulnerable position in this particular setting.”

[00:12:01] Cindy: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. We’ve identified four types of courage and one of those types is called role courage. And that’s when you’re used to playing a role. When you’re technically knowledgeable. When you’ve done it time and time again, you can kind of do it in your sleep. You know, it’s the type of courage that firefighters have, right? They’re so well-trained that running into a burning building doesn’t give them that adrenaline hit because they’re so well-trained, they’ve gotten past that, right?

So, when you and I do the things that we do, you know, I spoke to a 9,000-person audience, I wasn’t worried. I got called on in my association meeting the other day and wasn’t expecting to be asked on stage and I was totally flipped out, right? And so it’s just like, you know, you have this role courage for the things that you’re used to doing. And again, I keep going back to the habit of it.

You know, if we have technical competence, if we have a habit created around how we get things done, it’s like driving. You know, we have role courage around driving.

[00:12:56] Tina: How did I get to Safeway? You know?

[00:12:58] Cindy: Exactly. Yeah. We don’t even remember getting there, right? But at the beginning, it was nerve-wracking.

So I think so many of us, and I think this is particularly true for people of our age, you know, we’re all going into a new dimension of our lives. I’ve just turned 60, I’m like, you know, I’m looking at the retirement. What’s that going to look like for me? And I’m terrified of it because I’ve never done that before. What do you do? How does one do that? I know how to do this life, but I have no idea what that life is going to look like. And so, then the goal becomes, this is why I think courage is just a skill, is choosing to create that role courage around something new.

[00:13:38] Tina: That just leads so perfectly to the whole Anti-Retirement Movement. I can help you with that, Cindy.

[00:13:43] Cindy: Right, exactly.

[00:13:44] Tina: Because you mentioned just a little bit ago about thinking you should take this training into more personal levels, not just corporate. And that just resonates with me immediately because of the entrepreneurial aspect of having courage to start something new. And look at you, you know, you’re so accomplished and standing before 9,000 people, no problem, doing TED Talks. Yet even you say, “Oh, hmm, how do I do retirement?” And so that’s a whole other kind of aspect of having courage because the roles are changing so much and what retirement even looks like.

[00:14:15] Cindy: Well, right. Yeah.

[00:14:16] Tina: The expectation is like, “What do I do?” You know?

[00:14:19] Cindy: Right. Exactly.

[00:14:21] Tina: And so for a lot of people, moving into an entrepreneurial realm might be a solution. You know, you still want to put your toes in the sand and get out of the cold temperatures and the ice, but you also have something more to offer.

So let’s just pretend, let’s play, because how would you see that, for example, for you when you say, what do I do when I retire? Do I retire at 65? Do you have any kind of thoughts about how you could blend those? Your worlds together.

[00:14:44] Cindy: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and particularly in the last couple of years because of COVID. You know, I have a leadership development company. So I just don’t speak. I have a whole company that I’m responsible for.

And, you know, I look at the pieces of this that I love to do and how do I keep doing those pieces that I love to do. I mean, my goal in life is to like just come off of a 9,000-person stage and like die right there if that’s like, you know, in my 80s.

[00:15:13] Tina: Please don’t do that.

[00:15:13] Cindy: Yeah. I’m not going to do that right away, but like in my 80s, you know, I’ve given a great keynote and I just walk off and boom.

[00:15:18] Tina: Let’s close all the way to 100.

[00:15:19] Cindy: Yeah, okay. Close to that. Yeah.

[00:15:22] Tina: Okay.

[00:15:23] Cindy: And so, you know, I love that piece of doing the work. I love getting up there on stage. I love teaching people and helping people and bringing them into a different place in themselves. What I don’t love is the business side of it. You know, it’s a slog when you’re running a big company. You know, you’ve got a whole bunch of people who you’re responsible for, you know, it’s kind of the constant headache for anybody who’s run a business, constant headache of kind of running a global business.

So what I’m going to do in my retirement, I’m always going to work because I love working. And I can’t imagine my life without it. But is it going to be traveling to 90 cities a year? Probably not. Is it going to be the headache of all these full-time employees and facilitators and all that? You know, I’ll find a way to have my retirement be working on the things that I love to work on.

[00:16:13] Tina: Yeah. And I think we need more courage as we get older, don’t you?

[00:16:16] Cindy: I agree. Because we feel like we have so much more to lose, but the reality is we don’t. And I notice that even within leadership teams that I work with, the more responsibility people get, oddly, the more fearful they get. And the opposite should be true.

Logic would dictate that when you’re in control and when you have all the power, you should be less fearful. But human nature is such that the more we have, the more we are afraid of losing it.

And I think as we age, you know, we’ve been taught that when you’re in your 60s, this is what it looks like. When you’re in your 70s, this, you know, and none of that is true. That’s all a completely false narrative, particularly I think for women. But I think it’s for both men and women, that you’re only productive up until these years and that’s just not true.

[00:17:02] Tina: Yeah.

[00:17:02] Cindy: Particularly now that we’re all living longer, you know. The average age for women living is 98 or something ridiculous now, 96 or something. So we are kind of in our prime in our 50s and 60s. And we need to be making choices that aren’t dictated by the culturalization of what aging is supposed to look like.

[00:17:20] Tina: And I think that’s where some of the courage aspect comes in as we get older because ageism is alive and well. So how do you see those two working together, like to kind of challenge ageism? I mean, do you feel like that’s a courageous act for someone to call something out or to notice, you know, how do you see those two working together as far as ageism and the courage to embrace whatever we can do in our 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, you know?

[00:17:45] Cindy: Yeah. Well, the thing that I’ve seen, and this is after a long corporate career, working with a lot of different people around the world, really, is that if you believe it, you are it. And I think that as we age, the more we— You know, we all have an age in our heads, right? Like I’m 42. I was like, in my 20s, I was 42.

[00:18:08] Tina: Obviously.

[00:18:09] Cindy: Yeah. I mean, we’re all 40, I’m 42. We all have an age in our heads, but the more you can continue to act like that age, the more the people around you think of you as that age. And the more that you create the life that you feel like you want and deserve, and I do think it takes courage, but I also think it takes more of understanding what you really want and then making the choices you need to make to go after that.

[00:18:40] Tina: You know, that’s another kind of courage, because it might be that everyone around you is like, “Are you crazy? You’ve earned your retirement,” or, “Are you crazy? Why are you working?” that kind of a thing. Or maybe you’re going to change to something completely different than what you were doing. You know, you’ve been an architect and now you’re going to be a fashion designer. Or you’re going to run a program for children, something like that.

So there’s so many levels of courage. And you mentioned, that really got my curiosity going, because you mentioned four kinds of courage and that was the role. Now, can you tell us what the other three are?

[00:19:08] Cindy: Absolutely. So the first type of courage we discovered is blind courage, which I call teenager courage. It’s kind of the close-your-eyes-and-jump courage.

[00:19:15] Tina: Jump off the bridge into the river kind of courage?

[00:19:18] Cindy: Exactly, exactly. You’re not really thinking of the consequences. Sometimes you feel like it’s gut courage. And the thing that’s really interesting is pre-COVID, we were doing some pretty interesting research that sadly got stopped because, you know, healthcare had something else to deal with.

But we were working with a neuroscientist and she was discovering that blind courage maybe isn’t so blind, that it’s actually your subconscious processing data points, perceptions, things that your conscious mind can’t keep track of so quickly that it feels as though it’s just coming from nowhere.

And it’s, you know, those situations where all the data says to take a left, but you know you should take a right. That to me is a piece of blind courage where everybody’s telling you it’s crazy to go start this next career, but you just know in your heart of heart it’s right.

We need to listen to that because what our research is showing is that blind courage, that close-your-eyes-and-jump courage that appears thoughtless is actually your subconscious processing all of that information so quickly that your conscious mind can’t even absorb it. So that’s blind courage.

Role courage is that technical side of the world.

Then there’s crisis courage, and that’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the adrenaline hit. It feels like it’s life or death and you start reacting with really no conscious effort. It’s kind of the instinct. And that’s where so many of us have been stuck because of what COVID did to all of us psychologically. And you know, it’s the first time I think many of us, particularly of this age group, were ever truly in fear of our lives from something external, right? Because, you know, I would go to the grocery store in a hazmat suit and like put all my groceries in the garage going, “Is my milk going to kill me? I don’t know,” you know.

[00:21:03] Tina: Here’s my spray of antibacterial. How many—

[00:21:05] Cindy: Exactly. It was terrifying. You know, there’s a lot of research now that we all have PTSD from it because we were so afraid and we’ve now kind of, I don’t know about you, but you can’t really remember. Like there’s six or eight months where I don’t really remember anything about it because we were in this heightened state of fear.

So crisis courage, you need that. Like, it kept us alive. And you know, when you’re almost in a car accident and all of a sudden you’re driving like Mario Andretti and get yourself out of it, you know, we need that crisis courage. But you can become addicted to it and it can become a habit.

And then there’s core courage, and I think this is what you’re talking about in the work that you do. Core courage is kind of the hardest one to get to because it takes time. It takes time to sit back and think about what is it that I want? What is it that I want my legacy to be? Where do I want my company to go? What do I want my life to look like in five years?

And when you do that work and you get that sight line, and I always call it putting a pin on a map, that when things go crazy or unplanned things or uncertainty happen around you, you still have that sight line in your mind’s eye. You still see the pin on the map so you can at least keep going toward that.

And I think that’s what makes it hard for those of us who have worked our whole lives going into retirement, whatever that means for whoever it means what to, is we haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what we want that’s just for us. You know, you spend most of your life, what do you want so you can build a life for your family and your kids and for the safety of them and all. You know, a lot of it is external until it becomes really just about you. And I think we need to go to a place of core courage before we need it, right?

So I encourage people because of course all of my friends in my age group, I encourage everybody when they’re 50 to start thinking about what do they want in their retirement. And I think we should call it something different. I call it chapter two.

[00:23:05] Tina: Yep.

[00:23:05] Cindy: Because you know, I’m not going to retire. I’m going to keep working. So I think retirement is just the wrong word for what happens now. And being clear early about where it is you want to be, how you want to feel, how much you want to work because I think most of us probably would prefer to keep working in some way. And the world is starting to adapt to that. Gen X is 56 years old now, and there’s too few of them. When they start retiring out, they’re going to need to bring a lot of us back, you know, boomers and Xers back into companies in some part-time fashion.

So, those are the four types of courage, but I think for most people who are making the decision about what their chapter two looks like, you need all four types. Always.

Anyone in any given day, you probably use all four types. But then the question is, if you’re using all four types, that means you’ve spent the time in core courage, understanding what you want.

[00:24:04] Tina: Yeah. This is fascinating stuff because how our brains work, how life works, you know, and I’ve heard you say many times just in this conversation, habit, and that thoughtful decision-making about it, making a choice. It’s a really conscious decision a lot of the times. It isn’t always the burning building, the car accident, or whatever.

And so you talk about small steps of courage. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Because I still think there’s a lot of people that are like, “Yeah, well, I’m just kind of a wimp, you know. I can’t. I’m not really very courageous,” you know. But actually, you are, and you can develop that muscle. So let’s talk about how they develop. How we all develop, not they, but me too, the courage muscle.

[00:24:41] Cindy: Well, absolutely. And there’s that great quote by Ruth Gordon that says, “Courage is like any other muscle. It’s strengthened with use.” And, you know, you don’t start with, “I’m going to go bungee jumping.” If you’re afraid of heights, that’s not where you start, right? You start with the little everyday actions and giving yourself credit for them.

This morning, I gave myself credit for getting my lazy butt out of bed and actually thinking about why I didn’t want to go and then realizing that I needed to make a different choice. And I gave myself credit for it because I think when you take that pause, you make the choice, then you have to give yourself credit for that action. Because if we don’t believe we’re courageous, we can’t teach others to be courageous.

If we don’t give ourselves credit for that, it would be like if you wanted to run a marathon, which I can assure you would never, ever happen, if I wanted to run a marathon and I had a coach who was inside my head, like all of us have a coach inside of our heads, and every time I ran a block, the coach said, “Oh my God, you suck. That was terrible. I can’t believe you can only run a block,” you know, I’m never going to run a marathon.

But I think that inside, that evil roommate in our heads tells us a lot. And I think it’s particularly true for women, more so than men, but I think it happens to men as well, tells us that we’re not good enough. We’re not smart enough. We’re not courageous enough. We’re not going to be good at something. You know, I’ve not been good at golf for nearly 60 years. I keep playing it because I know eventually I might get a little bit better, but nothing, nobody’s going to die.

You know, putting it into that perspective so that you can start lifting heavier and heavier things. But that only happens if you can get that coach in your brain to give you credit for when you’re lifting the little weights first.

[00:26:30] Tina: You recommend people actually, I mean, I’m thinking you can write it down every day. You can keep a little courage journal. You could acknowledge at the end of each day, where was I courageous today?

[00:26:38] Cindy: Yep.

[00:26:39] Tina: And it could be the smallest thing. And it’s just so funny there are perceptions of what takes courage because I’ve literally had women come up to me and say, “I wish I were brave enough to do purple in my hair,” you know?

[00:26:50] Cindy: Yep.

[00:26:52] Tina: It’s like, “What’s holding you back? If that’s something you’d really love to do, why not?”

[00:26:55] Cindy: Well, yeah. And again, it’s taking that pause, right? So when somebody says something like that, you know, “I wish I had the courage to,” it’s like, take the pause and think about, you know, we spend a lot of time thinking about what’s the worst thing that can happen. Okay, well, people make fun of you. People think it’s silly. You know, somebody doesn’t like it. What’s the best thing that could happen? You know, the best thing is you feel like a rockstar and you feel that confidence that you want to feel.

I think especially in our culture in the United States, and this is particularly the United States right now, we’re fear mongering about everything, right? Every type of media, whether it’s TikTok or Facebook or the news or anything, it’s fear. It’s trying to get your adrenaline to hit so that you aren’t making conscious choices. So when you take that pause and say, “Really, what’s the best thing that could happen if I did this?” Then you can make a real choice.

Because usually our worst thing that can happen, like if somebody, “I wish I had the courage to have my hair be purple,” like literally, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You hate it and dye it the next day, right?

[00:28:03] Tina: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:28:04] Cindy: So it’s just taking that pause and asking the question, what’s the best thing that could happen?

[00:28:08] Tina: I love that. I think that could turn things around for a lot of people. Just that one line, “What’s the best thing that can happen from doing this?” And maybe you just feel great that day or you know, maybe you’re just like proud of yourself in that moment, or maybe some amazing, really giant thing happens like you got this promotion that you were wishing for, and were afraid to speak up for, any of those things.

So I love that. “What’s the best that could happen?” And it just starts triggering also just kind of that positive experience in your brain.

[00:28:35] Cindy: Yeah.

[00:28:35] Tina: You know, of looking at that side instead of that side, you know, the polarity of everything and choosing which way you’re going to look at it. And, you know, it can take courage not to watch the news. It can take courage to say, “I don’t care what everybody on Instagram is doing, I’m doing this,” kind of a thing. There’s so many ways. Any other advice on how people develop their courage muscle?

[00:28:53] Cindy: Well, you know, you bring something up with social media. And I would probably sound like an old fart when I talk about this, but I have seen the negative repercussions for myself mentally of being, you know. The people who created these, God bless them because there’s really great things that happen because of our technology. But the constant, especially at this phase in our lives, the constant barrage of negativity does in fact keep you from being courageous.

I got off Facebook two years ago. And I would want to look at it every night before I went to bed and waste who knows how many hours of my life doing that. And I was addicted. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, that I have ever given up. But I can promise you that my life is better now because of it. Because I actually have to call people if I want to know what’s going on with them or email them or text them to see how they’re doing, right?

And the habits that have been created because of this technology, you know, the research shows that 86% of us get a stress hormone released in us when we can’t touch our phones every seven minutes.

[00:30:00] Tina: Oh geez.

[00:30:01] Cindy: That’s how addicted we are.

[00:30:02] Tina: Wait a minute.

[00:30:03] Cindy: Exactly. Exactly. And I see it when we do our leadership workshops. I see people. I have to have them put it away from them because they can’t stop themselves. So they’ve created this monster at this addiction of receiving all of this negativity via technology. So I think number one is make choices about what you’re choosing to look at, right?

I don’t look at the news. I look at the news every evening, and I look at it once. I have BBC news alerts in case, you know, the world does end. I’m pretty sure that BBC doesn’t overreact, and they’ll be like, “Pardon me. The world is ending,” you know, that will be the news alert. “Excuse me. I hate to interrupt.” So that’s the only news alert that I have on my phone for like big things.

But other than that, I limit how much of that negativity from the outside world I take in. I am very well-informed. I am very involved in politics, so I keep up on all that, but I make choices about how much time I’m willing to give to that. So that’s number one.

Number two is think about who you’re surrounding yourself with. Because one of the things that I know I’ve noticed even in my own circle of friends is depending on how people have reacted to what happened over the past three years, you know, I’ve got a couple of friends who have not come out of the negative spiral.

[00:31:21] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:21] Cindy: And they, you know, it’s worst case scenario planning left and right. And I’ve made choices about not spending as much time with them because that does not build courage in me. And it’s very easy to get sucked into that, and I think that’s the social media thing. It’s very easy to get sucked into how horrible everything is and how awful the world is.

Third thing is, you know, Eleanor Roosevelt said it first. “Do something that scares you every day.” Because when you realize that’s how you build that courage muscle is, you know, just doing my walk this morning, I felt better about myself because I did it. That’s building your courage muscle.

You know, going out to dinner in a crowded restaurant for the first time after the pandemic, going to a concert and realizing how much you love live music, those things are what build that courage muscle.

But if you’re only doing the things that you’re comfortable with, you’re not building any muscle. I am very comfortable sitting on my couch all day long, every day doing nothing. I’m really not going to build any muscle doing that.

[00:32:29] Tina: Yeah. And I just think this is so important. All of this, those little steps, and then congratulate yourself on going to the concert.

[00:32:36] Cindy: Exactly.

[00:32:37] Tina: And congratulate yourself not spending the day on Instagram because it takes courage to walk to that different drummer, you know. Your own path can take courage. And I know how many people are afraid even just to turn on the camera and be on a Zoom call, right? They always have the avatar and they’re never going to show up, you know, all of those things.

So any of those little things, those seemingly small steps are building courage and resilience also.

[00:32:59] Cindy: Absolutely.

[00:33:00] Tina: I mean, they go hand in hand that our ability to adapt and be resilient goes along with showing courage, right?

[00:33:07] Cindy: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s literally like if you think about building your muscle in a gym, right? And I’m going to lift a one-pound weight and a five-pound weight, and then pretty soon, I’m doing 20 pounds and I’m doing, you know. You become so much stronger and it doesn’t just affect how much weight you can lift.

You know, my golf swing gets better, and I feel better, and I’m sleeping better. And so building your courage muscle is the same. It’s not just building that one little muscle. It affects so much else around you.

And I think, you know, and I look at this a lot for myself in this kind of decision-making process I am about what my chapter two looks like because time is fleeting. We don’t have 40 more years to like decide what we really want to do.

And you know, that old phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young,” right? Because when you’re younger, you just— And I think even today, I think many of us are still approaching our 50s and 60s and 70s as if we have 60 more years left. And I don’t want to be doing things that I don’t enjoy doing for the next 30 more years.

[00:34:11] Tina: Yeah.

[00:34:11] Cindy: So don’t let it freak you out. If you’re building that courage muscle now, how much more courageous are you going to be when you have to enter into more things that you’re not used to doing?

[00:34:22] Tina: Yeah. And that’s part of that adaptability. And when you talked earlier about that we perceive ourselves as younger, then others will as well, and there’s actually research that shows it can increase longevity to believe that you’re going to have longevity.

[00:34:35] Cindy: Oh, absolutely.

[00:34:36] Tina: But on the other hand, tempered with the fact of just not wasting time, not wasting time being afraid, not doing something because you feel like you’re not brave enough to do the thing, right?

[00:34:46] Cindy: Right.

[00:34:47] Tina: You mentioned it in your TEDx Talk that the scary thing of the hike, and I won’t give away all the details so people can go watch that, but what you felt like afterwards where it was kind of like, ooh, you know, kind of went limp there for a couple of minutes, but that was an extreme scenario.

But just in regular daily life, building that courage muscle will allow us to be able to adapt more quickly to whatever life hands us and enjoy, you know, just really get the value out of each day instead of hiding out.

[00:35:13] Cindy: Exactly. Well, and I think too, you know, if you look at the extreme of that, I think back to, you know, if you’ve ever done skydiving or bungee jumping or like if you ever got drunk and did that parachute thing in Mexico right where they drag you behind the boat and you’re terrified, you’re so scared that you’re almost out of your body sometimes. But when you finish, you feel like you could conquer the world.

And I think when even those little everyday things like me going out on my walk today when I didn’t want to do it, I felt better for doing it. I felt more energy, I felt more confident myself.

So whether it’s the big things that you have that great euphoria after or it’s those little everyday things, not only does it create a person that you want to be around of yourself, but it creates a person that other people want to be around too.

[00:36:10] Tina: Well, I just think it’s so encouraging to know that there’s always room for growth in this. And I just love all the ways you apply this because it applies to so many aspects of life. It isn’t just, you know, you’re going to be the CEO that’s going to give, or you on stage in front of 9,000 people. And by the way, I’ve read before that people’s fear of speaking is more than their fear of dying.

[00:36:31] Cindy: Yeah. Which is hilarious because it’s not going to kill them. Yeah, not going to kill them.

[00:36:35] Tina: But that seems to be another thing that a lot of people have a courage issue over.

 So, Cindy, thank you so much for being here today and sharing all these amazing concepts. And I’m hoping everybody’s going to go flex their courage muscle a little bit today. But how can people find you? Because you have so many wonderful programs and your books, so how can they track you down?

[00:36:52] Cindy: Oh, absolutely. Probably the best way is just go to my site, cindysolomon.com or the Courageous Leadership Institute site especially if you’re looking for something for your business or for your company or for your team. The Courageous Leadership Institute site has a lot of additional resources as well.

And I think anybody who is interested in learning more about those four courage types, because we had such a short time together, the Courage Challenge Workbook, which you can get on Amazon, is a really great resource. It’s just a little workbook that you can do really almost in one sitting to really understand what type of courage you’re most comfortable with and what type of courage you might need for making the choices that you’re in the process of making right now.

[00:37:30] Tina: Awesome. Well, you know, I can’t resist saying something about the courage of Solomon here.

[00:37:34] Cindy: Right.

[00:37:36] Tina: I said okay.

[00:37:38] Cindy: Exactly.

[00:37:40] Tina: Thanks so much for being here today. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to having another one soon.

[00:37:45] Cindy: My pleasure, Tina. Thank you so much for having me.

Copyright 2023 Tina Lorenz

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