The Courage to be Authentic


What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane, climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a racecar into a curve at the Indy 500?


For one person it might be quitting a secure, well-paying job to go back to school. For another, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 18 years or reporting that the company they work for is participating in unethical behavior.


While they may not appear daunting on the surface, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than physical feats. Yet these are the types of challenges we often face in our lives. Psychological risks can be mentally challenging, but they can also help us grow as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth, increase our self-esteem, or enrich our lives, we ultimately stretch ourselves.


Psychological risks that can facilitate personal growth typically fall into three categories.


Self-Improvement Risks

These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take singing lessons, or learn to speak French. On one side of the risk is the person you are today.  On the other side of the risk is the person you want to become.  Are you willing to take the risk to become the person you have always desired to become?


Commitment Risks

All commitment risks have some level of emotion at stake.  Whether you pledge yourself to a person, a relationship, a cause, or a career, you put a part of who you are on the line. According to Joseph Ilardo, author of Risk-Taking for Personal Growth, if you avoid making emotional commitments, you will most likely stunt your emotional growth.




Self-Disclosure Risks

Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you are taking the chance of being exposed. When you open up to others and reveal, how you feel and what you need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be authentic without doing so.


All risks carry the possibility of failure or misunderstanding. Often significant sacrifices must be made before any real benefits are realized.  You may be rejected or humiliated. In the case of honoring your beliefs or values, your personal safety could be in danger. Consider those who stand up for what they believe in or put their own wellbeing on the line in the name of a cause. People like Martin Luther King and Gandhi put their lives in harms way when they stood by their beliefs.  Standing up for your beliefs can help you learn how to be authentic and grow as a leader.



Are you a risk-taker? Ask yourself the following questions:


• Does every decision involve endless debates with yourself?


• Do you accept less than what you should because you’re afraid to speak up?


• Do you have difficulty making emotional commitments to others?


• Do you make up excuses that stop you from taking advantage of opportunities for self-improvement?


• Does “fear of rejection” keep you from doing what you’d really like to do?


If you answered “yes” to these questions indicates a reluctance to take risks, which may mean you tend to play it safe and reject change.  If you desire to fulfill your potential, and live an authentic life, you must be willing to be courageous and take risks.



Are you a highly motivated leader but struggle navigating the corporate environment? Do you wish you could lead with authenticity and more confidence?  Would you like to break through to the next level? Go to and get your FREE Audio CD:  “Get Recognized, Valued and Promoted at Work”.






Angela Joyner is a leadership expert, coach and national speaker.  She founded The Wonder Loft, LLC coaching practice for women.  Angela is devoted to teaching women around the world how to authentically navigate the corporate environment, lead with confidence and get promoted at work. Through private coaching, workshops, and signature talks, Angela shows women (and a few good men) how to create a powerful leadership brand and an abundant life they love. 


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