Jake Breeden

Tipping Sacred Cows

Nine Signs of a Courageous Mind

Healthy habits for healthy thinking

Posted Feb 04, 2016

Thinking courageously is a thrilling way to live. By taking more chances with your brain -- by embracing these nine habits -- you live more fully, more richly and more intensely. 

  1. The courageous mind seeks out diverse perspectives.
    While timid people surround themselves with those who validate their way of thinking, the brave-minded include people from different ideologies in their circle of friends. You don’t need to change or be changed, but rather be open to being with those who see the world differently from you.
  2. The courageous mind enjoys being challenged.
    Fearless minds are drawn to art that explores contradictory, disquieting truths and narratives that may end ambiguously. The plucky intellect appreciates tastes – in food, music, and movies – that must be cultivated to be acquired.
  3. The courageous mind isn’t desperate to be liked.
    In his book David & Goliath, Malcom Gladwell reveals that successful entrepreneurs rate much higher on the personality trait of disagreeableness than the average population. They’re not jerks, they simply “don’t require the approval of their peers to do what they think is correct.”
  4. The courageous mind can be alone without being lonely.
    Instead of distracting your brain with TV or Twitter, try being alert, awake and alone.
  5. The courageous mind is at peace with fear and anxiety.
    Learn from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): notice your thoughts, even when they are negative. Don’t fight to deny or disprove them, just notice them and name them so long as they are present. Deny them the energy of denial so that they fade away as your mind drifts on.
  6. The courageous mind tolerates incomprehension.
    Confusion is the growing pain of a developing brain. Sleep on it, and see what new clarity the morning brings.
  7. The courageous mind is both open and decisive.
    Carpenters are taught to measure twice and cut once. Courageous thinkers are open to deliberation before they decide, but once they decide they commit.
  8. The courageous mind is both humble and confident.
    Courageous minds are aware of their gaps yet confident in their capability to close them.
  9. The courageous mind craves paradox.
    Let your mind marinate in the dissonance of seemingly disparate notions such as being open-yet-decisive and being humble-yet-confident. Brave brains see the world as an interconnected system of paradoxes.

About the Author

Jake Breeden is the author of Tipping Sacred Cows. He is a faculty member of Duke Corporate Education, where he’s taught leaders at Google, IBM, Starbucks and others.

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