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You might think that courage would come in at number one, but in order to have courage, you need to have a store of energy, a positive perspective and loads of determination to see things through.

I mentioned in the introduction that anxiety often substitutes itself for assertiveness, and if you are tired of running from the room in search of relief from your anxiety and you’re ready to stand up for yourself, courage will serve you in doing so. Courage is not the absence of fear (nothing short of brain damage will completely alleviate fear), but the guts to go after what you want despite the fact that you’re scared to death.

Fear comes out of an irrational thought that you are at risk, and the fear is based on no evidence whatsoever. Courage accepts the fact that you’re afraid and goes ahead anyway. Courage doesn’t demand that you’re assured of a positive outcome—it goes ahead and pushes forward without the comfort of favorable odds.

Courage allows you to take a risk, which is the currency of starting your own business. Everything that you do involves a risk, even the mundane risk that you’ll get rained on on your way to your new office. With courage at your side, you can become assertive, the balance between a passive victim and an aggressive jerk who is just out for confrontation. It allows you to truthfully act on your beliefs.

Need help with becoming assertive? Here’s a plan:

State what you see and how you see it in a factual manner. “I’ve noticed that each time I call your office your assistant says that you are out of the office. Yet I usually hear your voice I the background.”

Tell how that makes you feel in a single sentence. “This makes me feel as if our business partnership is not important to you if my calls are not a priority for you.”

Finish by saying exactly what you want to happen. “Want” is important, because you are expressing your needs and taking control of the situation. “Want” signals your subconscious that you are no longer going to feel like a victim, which will give you the courage to move on.

The further you go along, the more courage you will need. Things will get harder, and you’ll have to make more of it. Each roadblock you encounter will require more and more courage, which is how you’ll know if you’re growing. Stronger people face larger obstacles, those who fail earlier trials will keep encountering them until they pass the test before them.

The risks that you face are the risk of success and the risk of defeat. The odds may be dead even between them or one may have the advantage over the other. The great thing about courage is that you don’t always have to have it before you use it. You can “fake it till you make it.” You can create an alter ego, which is what many successful people have done. If Beyonce’s scared, she’ll let Sasha Fierce take care of it. All her subconscious knows is that one part of her is answering the challenge and standing up to her fear. The more you tell your subconscious that you’re facing your fear, the more it will learn that it’s capable of standing up to the fear.

Courage is a one-way street; once you start to display it, you can only go forward. There’s no place for second-guessing, or tentativeness. You cannot stop to analyze the situation or pause to reflect. Courage can only operate in forward. It can’t power your backwards.

Remember, risk moves only in forward position. You need courage to take risks and starting something from nothing involves little more than constant risk.

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