top of page

5 Ways You Can Cultivate Courage and Strength to Reach Your Goals: Insights by Emerson

Face your fears

Fear is a common human response, acting as a primal guardian, alerting us to potential dangers and prompting caution. However, this protective instinct can sometimes become a barrier to embracing change and risk-taking, given its propensity to amplify uncertainty. Particularly in instances of fear of failure or rejection, one could argue that such fears are less instinctual and more so the product of societal conditioning. Society often creates a framework where acceptance, self-worth, and a sense of psychological safety are perceived as something to be earned rather than inherently deserved. Here are five suggestions that may help you address your fears so that you can reach your goals with insights from philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson:

#1 Cultivate courage and strength by identifying your fears. In his essay "Self-Reliance," Emerson states, "A man forsakes a valuable world when he submits to conformity." This idea pinpoints the root of our fears, often originating from the pressure of societal expectations and conventional norms. The dread of failing to match up to the anticipations of our peers, family, or society can be overwhelming. Yet, genuine bravery emerges from self-awareness. It is crucial to distinguish our authentic desires from imposed societal standards. By recognizing and understanding our fears, we create opportunities for confronting and overcoming them.

#2 Reframe your mindset towards fear. Emerson said, "Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world." It is true that if we allow it, fear can immobilize us, preventing us from pursuing our aspirations. This is why shifting our perspective and viewing fear as a catalyst rather than a barrier is essential. Fear often indicates that we are stretching beyond our comfort zones, signaling personal growth. Instead of interpreting fear as a sign of frailty, we should consider it a chance to evolve. This shift in perspective calls for ongoing effort and practice. A critical question to ask ourselves would be, “If I do not make progress towards my goals, will I have regrets?”

#3 Find a Solid, Honest, but Loving Support System. Even great philosophers and thinkers like Emerson needed a support system. None of us get to where we are going alone. If we believe we are “self-made,” we are fooling ourselves and failing to be humble. Emerson said, “Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can. This is the service of a friend. With him, we are easily great." Facing our fears can be a daunting task. It's not something we can do alone. We need a support system of friends, family, mentors, or therapists who can help us through the tough times. A support system can offer encouragement, advice, and perspective when we're feeling stuck or overwhelmed. They can also hold us accountable and help us stay motivated to reach our goals.

#4 Take Action and Perseverance. "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail." —Emerson. This underlines the inescapability of failure on our journey to goal attainment. More importantly, it emphasizes the power of resilience and the ability to rebound from setbacks. However, before we delve into the concept of perseverance, it's important to address the critical prerequisite - action. Regardless of the potential for failure, taking action is the first step towards achievement, setting the stage for learning, growth, and, ultimately, success. Through these actions and their outcomes, successful or otherwise, we lay the groundwork for perseverance, transforming our failures into steppingstones on the path to our goals. Resilience isn't merely about bouncing back from failure; it’s about utilizing those experiences to fuel our continued efforts towards our objectives.

#5 Self-reflection. "Make your own bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet," said Emerson. We must learn to reflect on our experiences, successes, failures, and fears. Self-reflection requires us to ask ourselves tough questions and be honest with ourselves. It allows us to identify areas where we need to improve and areas where we have grown.

Remember, the path towards courage and strength is not a one-off event but a continual voyage. It demands your consistent commitment, practice, and patience. You must learn to pinpoint your fears, alter your perspective, and boldly stride towards your goals, even in the face of fear. These steps will build resilience, bolstering your ability to handle life's obstacles and propel you towards your aspirations. Understand this: Fear doesn't define weakness but presents an avenue for personal growth. So, don't shy away. Embrace your fears, take the bold steps required to realize your dreams, and shape yourself into the person you choose to be.


bottom of page