When Times Get Hard: Courage and High Performance

What do you do when you are afraid your commitment to High Performance will cause those around you to despise you?

What do you do when raising your personal standards ruffles feathers?

Will you operate with the sixth and final High Performance Habit, Courage?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt shared an extremely relevant quote about this Newsletter’s topic. It states,

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

Your high performance (or even pursuit of it) can create situations that make you feel fearful.

My challenge to you is to choose to be courageous in advance.

Choose courage because your commitment to High Performance is bigger than your fears. There are three branches of courage, Brendon shares in his book High Performance Habits. They are: Honor the struggle, Sharing truth and ambitions, and finding someone to fight for.

Honor the Struggle

Courage is never chosen out of comfort. If it was, it wouldn’t be courage. Courage is defined as, “the ability to do something that frightens one.” Struggle and courage work in concert with one another. Each time you experience discomfort or struggle, it is an opportunity for you to display courage.

Make it a habit to honor your struggle. By habitually choosing courage to respond to smaller daily discomfort, you make it easier to choose courage when your High performance depends on it. Brendon reinforces this point when he shared, “If you quit at the first sign of failure or difficulty in your everyday life. What are the odds you‘ll persist in the face of real fear or threat?”

Choosing and exhibiting high performance is not easy and will require more of you than you are typically used to giving. Lean into and honor your struggles to experience and “embrace the suck”. The frustrations, setbacks, and increase effort you experience are the price of admission for high performance. Know that the struggles you face have stopped others who are currently stuck at above average. Will you retreat with them or utilize courage, along with the other five High Performance Habits, and strive forward into high performance?

Share truth and ambitions

Are you scared to let others know you are striving for high performance?

Do you feel like your friends or co-workers will begin to despise you as you become “different” and require higher standards for yourself?

Be courageous and push through this fear. High performance is not for everyone but everyone benefits from high performance. If Steve Jobs wasn't a High Performer, we wouldn't have the iPhone, iPod, or iPad in the way they are structured now. Your performance also doesn't have to invalidate or threaten the work of others (see post on influence).

Don’t downgrade your performance to fit in with others. Live and work as a high performer and challenge those around you to join.

Find someone to fight for

“We will do more for others than we will for ourselves”, Brendon shares in this section. You can utilize this human trait to your advantage by finding someone to fight for. Make your spouse, friend, child, or any other person of your choosing your reason and motivation for being courageous. Keep them perpetually in mind as you work so that when you face a struggle and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” or “Who needs me at my best right now?” you have an answer.


  • If your future self - a version of you ten years older, who is even stronger, more capable, and more successful than you imagined yourself to be - showed up on your doorstep today and looked at your current circumstances, what courageous action would that future self advise you to take right away to change your life? How would your future self tell you to live?

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