Curiosity, compassion and courage (or the three Cs) are innate to our human capacity. As opposed to the many learned behaviours we pick up along the way, we are born with these three basic principles built into us.
Think about it. When we are children looking at the world with new eyes, we are courageous – climbing without fear of falling; attempting new things with no thought to the consequences. We are compassionate – helping friends up when they fall, giving hugs when someone seems sad. We are curious – asking questions and consuming books, eager to learn new things.
This is our natural state, untainted by the conditioning of our parents and fear of the worst-case scenario. We are not born afraid. However, life teaches us caution, and we begin to question ourselves in every situation.
Why do we do this to ourselves? The answer is simple: we want to be seen, we want to be heard, and we want to be loved.
With that in mind, here are some tips that I offer to my clients when considering the three Cs:
1. Listen to the fear
As we get older, a sort of inner tug-of-war begins between being our authentic selves and fear of not fitting in. You might find yourself wanting to speak up in a meeting, for example, but stopping yourself at the thought of being told you’re wrong or being made to feel that your opinion doesn’t matter. You want to be yourself, but you also want to belong. Instead, you self-edit. You hold back. Fear takes over.
The way to overcome this, is to adjust your approach to fear. It is often said that the only thing to fear is fear itself. So, instead of being afraid, hear your fear calling out as an invitation to courage – a call to action.
Listening to fear helps us to take courageous steps. Bravery can’t exist without it. Let your fear enable you to step into your curiosity. If you don’t, you are closing off your options by making assumptions. Why fear something that might not even happen? That is a waste of energy. Instead, put your energy into visualising your ideal outcome. Let yourself feel how you would if it worked out just the way you hoped. Take a deep breath and go for it! You might find that you had nothing to be scared of, and you’ll never have to worry about that particular situation ever again.
2. Challenge your assumptions
Making assumptions relates to your past experiences. Remember how I said life teaches us to be cautious? Caution is born out of negative experiences. If we are hurt by something, we vow never to do it again – it’s how our brains are wired. We go into self-preservation mode, protecting ourselves from potential pain. By doing this, however, we limit our lives. Show yourself some compassion. Forgive the past. Don’t look back – you’re not going that way.
When you find yourself assuming the worst, you are allowing your past to limit your future. Instead, recognise that you are in an empowered position of choice.
3. Treat yourself and others with compassion
If you saw your best friend doing this to themselves, you would advise them to live life to the full and stop holding back, right? My mantra is Be your own best friend. Steer yourself in the direction you would steer a buddy. You wouldn’t allow your bestie to limit their experiences, so why allow yourself to?
You might, for example, be assuming that the person in front of you will react to something the way someone else did in your past.
This is where all three elements come into play:
- Let fear call you to courage – be brave enough to try.
- Get curious about the ways in which the outcome might be different this time.
- Have compassion for yourself – by choosing not to limit your life by holding back.
- View the person in front of you with compassion too. They are not who you are comparing them to in your mind. Everyone is different. The chances are, this new person will react differently, and pleasantly surprise you.
Take your new-found compassion towards yourself and use it as a frame through which to view others without judgement or pre-conception.
4. Ask yourself useful questions
Instead of thinking about all the bad things that might happen, start asking yourself some positive questions:
- “What’s the best thing that could happen?”
- “How can I be more courageous?”
- “Where is my reaction to this situation coming from?”
- “What is my fear asking of me?”
- “I have several choices – what are they and which is the best one?”
These are all GREAT questions that are based in positivity. They are a powerful way to convert fear into rationality and will encourage you to have more confidence.
5. Try it out!
The only way to find out if you can bring about real change in the battle against self-doubt is by giving it a shot. Speak up in that meeting! Ask your crush out! Join that gym! View your fear as an invitation to courage. Recognise that being afraid presents you with a selection of choices. Have the compassion to embrace your imperfection. Have the curiosity to embrace your greatness. Have the courage to unleash the real you.
Courage, Compassion, Curiosity and Coaching
In my line of work, I am finding more and more that there is a call, for leaders in particular, to be more compassionate, curious and courageous. There is value in recognising that we are all human, and we crave human connection. Understanding, approachable leaders who are able to set their ego to one side and operate from a place of authenticity end up with a team who will go above and beyond for them.
Our job as coaches is to make business leaders see this. It does wonders for staff retention and team morale. I advise them to have the courage not to be flawless all the time; with compassion for each team member, and curiosity for the outcome that will bring. Perfect leaders aren’t real, and real leaders aren’t perfect. Vulnerability and courage go hand in hand.
The same goes double for anybody that you’re coaching – and for you too! You can even apply the three Cs to yourself. You’ll be amazed by the results. I always am. What you come to realise is that these three principles are EVERYTHING. They will help you and your clients reach full potential.