What Real Courage Looks Like

By Emily Chase Smith of Emilychasesmith.com | @EmilyChaseSmith

What’s more romantic than James Dean roaring down the 66, helmetless and leather jacket clad?  You can feel the bad boy in the air and imagine the undefined adventures waiting down the road.

Far less compelling is the businessman traveling that same highway, with a suitcase of samples in the trunk of his Oldsmobile.  His destination well defined and outcome much more certain.

No one puts the businessman on a poster next to Elvis.

But there’s adventure in the certainty.  There’s courage in preparation.  Swinging your leg over a motorcycle seat takes little thought, but preparing to win takes persistent determination.

I educate and coach business owners and executives on financial savvy. From my perspective true courage is the discipline to look at what is instead of living in the fog.

Nothing is harder than looking uncertainty in the face and, instead of riding off blindly into the sunset, stopping and looking at reality: the reality of your business, of your market, of your skills, of your staff and of your money.

That takes real courage.

In my business, that looks like putting together a solid cash flow analysis and seeing you only have a 3-month runway.  It also looks like making the difficult staffing decisions, of having tough conversations with investors and bankers, and of sourcing additional money.

But nothing takes more cajones than knowing exactly where you are and getting help when you need it.  [click to tweet]

I recently went to the dentist after a 5-year hiatus.  Hiatus sounds fancy, but it was really just 5 years of letting my dental phobia overrule good judgment.  I enjoy frequent dental nightmares – think dentist meets Silence of the Lambs, night after night.  Days before an appointment, I can’t sleep.  Suffice it to say, I’ve had some bad dental experiences.

The courage lies in going to a new office and telling the dentist, “I’m a level 3 clinger,” (thank you Wedding Crashers) and my mouth is a mess.  The courage lies in taking what is and looking it in the face.  Courage is listening to the drill and not picturing the Grand Canyon being created in my mouth.

In my former life as a bankruptcy attorney I admired my clients.  Some might disparage their character because by definition they were in deep financial trouble, but I knew the courage it took to step across my threshold.  I knew the courage it took to say: I need help.

Courage is accepting where you are and moving to where you want to be.  It’s taking the next scary step into the unknown, day after day.  It matters not that you start a few steps behind via a mouth full of decay or a balance sheet in the red.  What matters is that you choose to move forward today.  For your finances, it means moving toward the block.

What does courage look like in the daily life of an entrepreneur?  

Real courage looks more like the businessman in the Oldsmobile and less like James Dean (although you can wear a leather jacket if it helps).

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Emily Chase SmithEmily Chase Smith, Esq. is the Entrepreneur’s Money Expert.  Emily is a California attorney with a long history of helping business owners and entrepreneurs make financially savvy decisions as they start, grow and transition in their businesses – because money only counts if you keep it. She hosts The Entrepreneur’s Money Podcast and is the author of The Financially Savvy Entrepreneur, published by Career Press, due out June of 2014.