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Alex is an occupational psychologist. He’s curious, bright and is the type of person who succeeds at everything he turns his hand to. One of his boyhood dreams was to become a helicopter pilot, and he’s about to make that come true, after twelve months hard work at pilot training school.

Alex is a man who knows how to create the life he wants.

I’m travelling the Trans-Siberian Railway with Alex. That means lots of time to talk. Three themes have struck me about his story. His commitment, his conviction and his courage.

When Alex commits to something, he goes at it heart and soul. He speaks of incredibly difficult times where he had to really dig deep. But he didn’t ever think of giving up. He finds even more inner resolve in the face of extreme challenge. His commitment means he doesn’t look back, no matter how tough it gets.

Alex stays close to his own true North. He makes his decisions based on what feels right. He’s a man with conviction. He changed from a degree in aeronautics to a degree in psychology when he realised the former was not right for him; he left the corporate world when it was longer fulfilling; he gave up a well paid independent consultancy career in Asia to put his savings into training to become a helicopter pilot.

I’m not sure that Alex would describe himself as courageous. He would probably say that he just has to do what he has to do. Listening to him, I would say he’s one of the most courageous people I’ve met, simply because of the number of times he’s taken the hard decision to make a change knowing that it will plunge him into uncertainty. I don’t know that he enjoys walking into the unknown but he does it. And he keeps doing it. To me that is courage. Feeling trepidation but doing it anyway.

He told me, “All the boldest decisions I have taken in my life have been about following my heart not my head, and without exception they’ve been the best decisions I’ve made. That’s not to say they didn’t come without some pain and sacrifice, of course they did, but it’s been absolutely worth it for the prize of a life I love.”

Like me, you might wish you could be a bit more like Alex. But, how can we develop more commitment, conviction and courage? I don’t believe it’s  easy, because force of will cannot make us become something we’re not. I have commitment and conviction, but hearing Alex’s story has shown me that those two things are not enough, if we are to really live the life we want. Courage is the engine oil.

So, how can we be more courageous? The title of the book Feel the fear and do it anyway (Susan Jeffers) comes to mind.

Just say ‘Yes!

Alex is a man who says yes. Yes to what he wants, yes to experiences that he knows will be expansive, and yes to things that intuitively feel right.

Do you?

Sally Bibb’s book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results (the first on the subject) is published by Kogan Page. Use discount code HRSBRW at the Kogan Page website.

SBRD Sally Bibb book
Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
Sally Bibb is the author of Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results and The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and in Life, and is a leading strengths expert.