Small Acts of Courage
Alexandra M. Greene is a strategist, mobilizer and policy advisor, with more than 15 years of effective management and executive leadership experience. She has turned her experience, expertise and wit into a new enterprise, AMG Strategies, a social impact firm which provides clients with support in community engagement, corporate social responsibility, government relations and thought leadership.
Here she examines her personal strategies for creating professional success through small acts of courage by being positive, patient, and present.
For more information on new firm, visit: www.amgimpact.com
Alexandra M. Greene
President and Founder
If anyone would have told me two years ago that I would voluntarily leave three, well-paying positions with reputable organizations in less than two years, I would be shocked. Friends and family would describe me as a practical, risk-adverse realist. You see, I was raised in a small, rust belt city in upstate New York, where leaving a good job to pursue a dream, without tangible next steps, is a foolish and unaffordable luxury.
So, why did I do it? I have learned that the values that are instilled in us, especially women—work hard and; don’t complain, it could be worse; put in your time—was creating resentment and toxic energy that was affecting my personal and professional relationships. Instead of staying the course, I decided to channel and repurpose that energy to build up the courage and self-awareness to trust my instincts to make a bold change. A necessary change.
While searching for a full-time job, I decided to focus on my passion – creating opportunities for marginalized communities. I am investing my time and energy into building out AMG Strategies, a company that I created in 2018, while keeping an open mind to job opportunities that come my way. While this may sound ideal to some, every day is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, never-ending to-do lists, and small acts of courage.
Brené Brown defines “ordinary courage” as the ability to “speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences—good and bad. Speaking from our hearts.” As entrepreneurs, small acts of courage are the seemingly infinite and at times mundane tasks and sacrifices that allow us to accomplish larger goals. They are also any task or decision that forces you to step outside of your comfort zone to accomplish a larger goal. This could be asking your current or former boss for a reference or reviewing your LinkedIn network to identify graphic designers to hire to help build a website for your new business.
Practicing Small Acts of Courage: The 3Ps
I like to use a three-prong approach that I refer to as the “3 Ps: Being Positive, Patient, and Present” in practicing and being more aware of the small acts of courage that help me reach my goals. The 3 Ps are interconnected; you really cannot have one without the others.
We are our thoughts. We become our thoughts. Even if our negative thoughts are just our perception, I think we can all agree that perception is reality. Therefore, if your thoughts are negative and do not support a vision of you accomplishing your goals, then you’ll never be successful and achieve your goals. Being positive is all about perspective and keeping it through the ups and downs that each day brings us. The following tips help me keep a positive attitude daily:
Gratitude. Start every morning writing one sentence stating one thing, person, or occurrence that you are grateful for. If you miss a day, or two, or three, then write down two, three, or four gratitude statements to catch up. If you’re not into writing, that’s okay. Thoughts of gratitude work as well
and can happen at any time of any given day.
Self-care. Self-care isn’t necessarily about spa treatments, vacations abroad, or a pricey fitness membership. Self-care does not have to be intricate, complicated, or expensive.
It really is just being kind to yourself through intentional acts like reading, journaling, complimenting yourself or meditating.
This is difficult. Most of us either feel like we’re running out of time to accomplish a goal or are literally out of time because a deadline already passed. But, for the most part, our inability to be patient is due to preconceived thoughts and narratives we’ve created about ourselves, which all too often becomes our reality. Whenever I start to get anxious about where I should be in my career or begin to replay professional failures and missed opportunities, I do my best to remind myself to:
Forget self-imposed timelines and performance-based markers. I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my career and life in general. And, where I am is pretty amazing considering where I started because there is a lesson to learn and gift to gain with every experience, good or bad. Period, full-stop.
Stop comparing myself to others. I cannot compare myself to anyone else because my personal and professional journey are just that, my own. My journey is unique to me and filled with abundance and prosperity. As President Theodore Roosevelt explained, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Whenever, I have negative thoughts and need to practice being positive or I am upset that something is not happening when I want it to, I have to become present to shift gears from one mindset to another. Simply put, you cannot be positive or patient without presence or the practice of being present. When we are present, we are thinking about where we currently are, who we may be with, and what we are currently doing or need to do. Since it’s the most important P, it also happens to be the most difficult. I use the following tools and resources to stay present daily:
Organization. To-Do Lists. Create monthly and daily to-do lists designed to meet your quarterly and annual business goals. It’s easier said than done, but also keep track of each list throughout a given month and day, respectively. You’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish. Similarly, if you’re searching for a new role or project, then organize your network in a way that helps you prioritize who you need to contact, why,
5 Second Rule (the Rule). Created by motivational speaker Mel Robbins, the 5 Second Rule is a simple tool that helps us motivate and get things done. On her blog, Robbins explains: “[i]f you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or a commitment . . . . count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.” Incorporate the Rule or another anti-procrastination tool into your daily routine. When you get stuck or are just having a bad day, use the Rule to motivate and start working on a task. The task can be anything, just start somewhere.
Trust your gut. Your intuition will never lie to you. Never. If your gut is filled with butterflies and you’re thinking that a recent job offer or new project is not in your best interest, listen! Take time to figure out why your “spidey senses” are going off. Is it fear of the unknown because you are new to the role and/or the client? Or could it be the compensation is too low and their is no opportunity for negotiation? The former is normal and a good sign. The latter may pose a real and insurmountable barrier to accepting the offer. This is okay; there will be more offers at your desired compensation.
Make decisions based on courage, not fear. Easier said than done but try not to make any important decisions off the cuff or because you think that the opportunity won’t be available tomorrow or the day after. Always give yourself at least 24 hours before committing to anyone or anything. If it is meant for you, it will be there once you’ve had time to make a clear and conscious decision to accept.
Celebrate small wins. Whether it’s getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button or drafting and sending an email request for coffee/lunch to pitch to a former colleague. Celebrate every single task you complete throughout the day. Your celebration does not have to be elaborate. Your celebration could be a smile of gratitude for finishing the task or an internal acknowledgement (self-talk) that you have one less item on your to-do list.