Leaders become better when they follow through. That requires emotional courage or the willingness to feel the hard feelings that arise from taking risks, breaking the usual patterns, and trying new actions.

So how does one cultivate emotional courage?

The best way is to take risks in situations where the perceived risk is much higher than the actual risks. In such low-risk real life situations, you build up the capability to take risks in higher-risk situations.

First pick a leadership skill you want to get better at, like negotiation.

Say you go to the market to buy groceries. Try bargaining with the grocer. Practise being clear, succinct, firm, and be aware of all the thoughts and feelings that are rising inside you as you go through the process.

If you were like me, I would sometimes trip up on my words, feel my heart racing and my stomach sinking, as questions of “What if the grocer says no?” or “What if I sound rude?” or “What if I’m going to be banned from the market?” zip around in my mind.

These are likely going to be the same thoughts and feelings that come up as you follow through when you try to communicate about mistakes in other real situations, like negotiating a partnership agreement.

As you become more aware and familiar with the thoughts and feelings that accompany your actions, you are essentially broadening your repertoire of internal states, expanding your freedom to act, and building up that emotional courage to take action.

Keep practising and build yourself up to being a better leader, one risk at a time.