The 10 Habits of Courageous Women – Sonia McDonald

What does it mean to be courageous? For many people, the first thing that comes to mind is someone who has overcome a great tragedy or challenge. While this is undoubtedly one aspect of courage, there are other habits that courageous women exhibit on a daily basis.

Courage can mean many different things. It can mean standing up for yourself and your beliefs, even in the minority. It can mean being unafraid to take risks, even if you don’t know the outcome. And it can mean having the strength to keep going, no matter how tough things get.

In this blog post, we will explore ten habits of courageous women and how they have helped them achieve great things in their lives.

Smashing Through The Glass Ceiling & Eliminating Barriers In The Workplace

According to Catalyst, women comprise 47% of all employed people in Australia. In addition, 36.2% of women have a bachelor’s degree or above, more than double the 16.2% in 2000.

Yet, still, women only make up 28% of all leadership roles in the country compared to their male counterparts. For example, when looking at Chief Executives in Australia’s top 200 companies, women make up only 7% (or 14 from 200), which has only slightly increased from 11 in 2017.

So, why is there still such a significant disproportion today, even when research shows that women outperform men in most leadership skills?

What prevents women from smashing through the glass ceiling and eliminating these gender barriers in the workplace? The answer might be found by looking at courageous women.

Courageous women are not afraid to challenge the status quo or make their voices heard. They understand that true change will only happen when courageous action is taken, so they don’t just accept things as they are.

When courageous women see a barrier in the workplace, they don’t back down or accept it as an inevitability. Instead, they take action to challenge and remove it so that others can benefit from their opportunities. They understand that their courage is necessary for progress.

‘Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practise any other virtue consistently. You can practise any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.’ – Maya Angelou, Poet & Civil Rights Activist

Do you want to find your courage and become a kind and courageous woman? My book First Comes Courage helps you explore leading with courage while equipping you with insights and tools to grow and nurture your own courage from within and from your team.

Ten Habits Of Courageous And Successful Women

By looking at courageous women and understanding what makes them tick, we can better understand how to create more opportunities for women in leadership roles.

We can learn from their habits and apply them when facing our own barriers and challenges. Doing this will help us create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for everyone.

1. They Own Their Fears Instead Of Waiting For Bravery

It is only human to have a little fear. But unfortunately, the world is full of fear, such as a fear of failure, judgement, and the unknown. The difference between being courageous and not is being fearful yet doing it anyway.

That is what truly separates courageous women from everyone else. They don’t wait for bravery to come to them – they put themselves out there and take risks, even if it is a bit scary. Even if their inner voice tells them to stay still. Fear can run wild and take control of your mind if you let it. It can stop you from achieving your goals and making your dreams a reality.

Courage is fear.

There is no magic potion you can take or secret switch you can flip that helps you find your bravery. The only way to become courageous is to just do it.

You must take action and keep going. It is time to put your dreams before your doubts and fears, and only once you do will bravery come naturally and help you achieve success.

An example of overcoming fear is Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was brave enough to follow her dream, and despite numerous setbacks, she made history.

Courage is resistance to fear and mastery of fear, not absence of fear – Sonia McDonald

2. They Stand Up For What They Believe In, Even If It’s Unpopular

Courageous women are brave enough to stand up for themselves and their beliefs, even when it’s unpopular. They understand that courageous leadership requires courage and conviction in the face of opposition and aren’t afraid to speak out on behalf of those who may not have a voice.

They recognise the importance of taking courageous action to create positive change in the world. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself, especially when it means standing out from the crowd and being a “black sheep”.

They understand that their ideas are valuable and don’t feel the need to conform to what others expect of them. Instead, they embrace who they are and use this as a source of strength and inspiration.

They’re also not afraid of saying “no” if something goes against their beliefs. They have a strong moral compass and the courage to stand up for what is right, even if it means going against the grain.

A great example is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been courageous enough to speak up against issues such as racism, inequality, and climate change in the US. Her courageous leadership has made her a powerful symbol of hope and resilience for many, inspiring them to stand up for their beliefs and fight for a better future.

Kindness empowers people to lead with positivity, purpose, and open-mindedness. It empowers leaders to embrace new ideas – Sonia McDonald.

3. They Are Strong And Resilient

Courageous women don’t give up easily, even when life throws them a curveball. They have the inner strength to keep going and never succumb to despair. They understand that resilience is key to success and push themselves to stay positive and keep working hard, no matter what life brings their way.

An example of this is Oprah Winfrey. Despite coming from a difficult background and facing numerous challenges, she was resilient enough to turn her life around and become one of the most successful women in entertainment.

4. They’re Not Afraid To Take Chances And Try New Things

Courageous women understand that taking risks and trying something new can be a great source of growth. As a result, they don’t fear failure but view it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

They aren’t afraid to take chances and step outside their comfort zone, even if it means facing some uncertainty or discomfort along the way. These women understand that taking risks is an integral part of life and use this as motivation to keep pushing forward.

An example of a courageous woman who is not afraid to take chances is Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook. She took a leap of faith by leaving her well-paying tech job to join a relatively unknown social media company in 2008. Her courageous decision paid off, and she has since become one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley. While she stepped down from her role in August of 2022, she now continues at Meta (formerly Facebook) while serving on the board of directors.

Ready for OWL? Outstanding Women Leaders!

5. They Persevere Even In The Face Of Adversity

Courageous women are not discouraged by failure. Instead, they have the strength to keep going and use every setback as a learning opportunity. They don’t give up easily, no matter how tough things get, but instead push themselves to work even harder and reach their goals.

An example of a strong woman with perseverance is Stacey Abrams, the first African-American woman to be a major party’s nominee for governor in the United States. Despite facing immense adversity and multiple attempts to suppress her vote, she persevered and became a powerful voice in politics.

6. They Lead By Example

Courageous women are strong and confident leaders who lead by example. They understand the power of leading with integrity and courage and demonstrate it in their actions and behaviours. They inspire others to do the same, understanding that a positive example can have a lasting impact on those around them. They know that courageous leadership requires taking responsibility for their decisions and actions, even when difficult or unpopular.

An example is Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient at just 17 years old. She was courageous enough to stand up for her beliefs in the face of adversity. She risked her life to promote education for girls in Pakistan. Her courageous leadership has inspired many around the world and made her a powerful symbol of change.

7. They Have Purpose

Courageous women have a strong sense of purpose and determination. They know what they want out of life and are bold enough to take action to achieve their goals. They understand that success requires hard work and dedication but also recognise the importance of taking time for themselves and enjoying the journey along the way.

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist, is a courageous woman with a purpose. She has become a symbol of hope and change for many worldwide. Greta has the determination to make a difference in the world. She stands up for what she believes in despite intense criticism from those who oppose her views. Her courage and strength inspire people of all ages to take action toward creating a better future.

8. They’re Compassionate And Kind, Even To Strangers

Kindness begins from within. Courageous women don’t just stand up for themselves but also for those who can’t do it for themselves. They are kind and compassionate to everyone, not just those close to them.

But, most importantly, they are kind to themselves.

Courageous women help lift others up and are considerate of other people’s feelings and needs. They understand that kindness is courageous and that it takes strength to be kind in a world where cruelty often seems to prevail.

Women who are courageous use kindness to fuel their ambition. They never shy away from standing up for what is right, even if it doesn’t benefit them directly. By being courageous, kind and compassionate, courageous women create an environment where everyone can thrive and become their best version without fear or judgement.

An example is Mother Teresa, the nun who devoted her life to helping those in need. She dared to confront poverty and suffering head-on and inspired millions worldwide with her kindness and compassion.

9. They Practise Calm And Self-Care

Courageous women understand that caring for themselves and being good to their bodies is key to maintaining a fearless mindset. So they make time for self-care through meditation, yoga, or just getting enough sleep.

They also practise mindful breathing and relaxation techniques whenever stress or anxiety builds up. Doing so helps to balance your mind and body and puts you in the best position to make courageous decisions.

Arianna Huffington is a powerful example of how courageous women can remain focused and productive while still taking care of themselves. After struggling with burnout and exhaustion, she prioritised her self-care and well-being. She now shares her wisdom on the importance of sleep and restful practices to stay courageous and resilient when taking on life’s challenges.

10. They Support Other Women In Leadership

Women with courage understand the importance of supporting each other and lifting up fellow women. They know that when courageous women join forces, anything is possible. They are determined to create more opportunities for female leaders in their fields, break through barriers, and inspire others to do the same.

Melinda Gates, a co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is an excellent example. She works to empower courageous women worldwide and promote gender equality through various initiatives. Her courageous leadership helps to show that when women work together, anything is possible.

By understanding the habits of courageous women and implementing them into our lives, we can become courageous enough to take risks and make a difference.

Final Thoughts

These are just some courageous women who have positively impacted and inspired us all. Their courageous habits remind us that anything is possible if we put our minds to it and never give up on our dreams – no matter how big they are. By embodying these habits, we can make a positive difference and live a life of purpose and meaning.

While courageous women are often celebrated for their strength, and rightly so, we should also remember to be courageous ourselves.

We can all use these habits as a source of motivation in our own lives and impact the world around us. With courage, anything is possible. So let’s be courageous together!

Want to help the women in leadership at your company boost their courage? Book Sonia for your next conference, workshop, or event as she delivers her impactful and moving keynotes based on her books as well as a number of other extraordinary keynotes. You’ll learn courage, kindness, impact, purpose, resilience, and more virtues. Are you ready to embrace your inner courage and change your life? Contact Sonia today to find out more.

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Sonia is passionate about her voice. When Sonia speaks, everyone in the room feels like she is having a conversation with them as her audience will feel as if they are the only one in the room. She speaks from the heart. She is brave. She wants everyone to be brave. She is an impactful and motivational leadership expert and speaker that creates a life-changing experience. People call Sonia sassy, inspirational, real and a speaker who leaves a lasting impression. Her high-energy, authenticity and humour combined with actionable and practical advice, empowers her audience and provides them with great drive and confidence to take courageous actions and inspire great leadership in all aspects of their lives.

Sonia also is founder of LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. and is also a renowned and award-winning author, having written several of her own books, Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and First Comes Courage as well as being a regular contributor in The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She was named as one of the Top 250 Influential Women in the world as well as Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs by Richtopia.

Through her leadership advisory and coaching work at LeadershipHQ, and founding the Outstanding Leadership Awards, Sonia is internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and culture, organisational development, neuroscience, kindness, and courage. Her clients include ANZ, Tyro, ATO, Virgin, Thiess, Seymour Whyte, Q Super, Dexus, ARTC, Brisbane City Council, Downer, CQU and 100’s of other amazing organisations and leaders!

Sonia is also a full-time single parent and has a passion for women in business and teenage mental health. Sonia travels and speaks across Australia and Globe, and she is on a mission to building a world of great leaders and leadership.