One of my favorite sayings is, “Life is as big or as little as your courage allows.” This saying has meant more to me lately as I have been reflecting on life due to the new year and a milestone birthday next month.

One of my greatest moments of courage occurred many years ago when I worked as managing editor on another magazine. A writer position opened on that publication. I dreamed of doing more writing, as that is my first love, so I gathered my courage, went into my boss’s office and asked for the job—and he gave it to me. I felt triumphant and exhilarated that I went after what I wanted, and I was rewarded for it. That act of courage changed the course of my career and proved to be one of the best moves I ever made. That moment changed the way I thought of myself. It instilled confidence and a greater sense of courage in me.

Often, personal courage and courage in business go hand-in-hand. Fear can hold you back in both places, but being courageous can open so many possibilities. During a difficult economic period, fear often takes over, but being courageous is even more important to the success of your business at this time.

If you have been contemplating opening a new club, renovating one of your existing clubs, changing your operating model or adding aquatics programming, what has been holding you back? If the business plan is sound, then perhaps it is just fear. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of success. Every act of courage in business takes some planning; then it takes a giant leap.

Courage is an act. It is something you do or say, not simply something you wish.

Courage opens doors and opportunities. When you have the courage to express your dreams and lay out your plans to others, you involve others in those dreams and plans. That can only help you in the long run. People want to help others, especially if they believe in your dream and you are courageous enough to offer them a role in your plan.

Courage gives you control. When you worry and fret about something to the point that it leads to inaction, you have given control to someone or something else. Instead of worrying about the new competitor down the street, be courageous and step up your marketing, rework your business model or renovate your facility. This action gives you control of your business’s future instead of leaving it in the hands of your competitor.

Courage begets courage, and fear begets fear. A one-time act of courage will not suffice if you want to be successful in business or life. You must start with one act of courage, then another and another. It takes practice, but it becomes easier over time to take those leaps. It must become your new way of thinking and acting for courage to truly change your life and business.

Courage is contagious. Being courageous in business can inspire others to be courageous and follow their dreams. Support that, even if it takes those people away from you. Their dreams are as important as yours.

Most importantly, courage starts with a dream that you cultivate, plan, then act upon. So, sweet dreams, everyone.