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#60 Joakim Muschött on making career choices with courage

Joakim explaines  how career coaching can assists you in making the choices that best fit to your personality, to identify your expertise and skills and how to match these to your next career step.

Published onOct 20, 2018
#60 Joakim Muschött on making career choices with courage

Welcome back Joakim Muschött, ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and founder and CEO of Skifta Utveckling AB. In episode episode #58, Joakim explained  how career coaching can assists you in making the choices that best fit to your personality, to identify your expertise and skills and how to match these to your next career step. In his book on the topic “Courage” (Swedish: Mera mod!) he goes into details on how to face your fears and dare to step outside your comfort zone.

Johan Bertil Muschött today interviews his father on what it takes to be brave and why its necessary for a successful career change.

When you're getting close to the comfort zone you get nervous and anxious and want to leave but stay there breathe and say to yourself out loud - this is how it should feel. This is okay, I am okay!

– Joakim Muschött, ICF Professional Certified Coach, Sweden


Hi, welcome to PhD Career Stories, I’m Alice Corani and today you will listen to a new episode from Joakim Muschött. Joakim is a certified career coach and he is running his own consultancy company “Skifta utveckling” in Sweden. In a previous episode, #58, he introduced the difference between career coach, career counselling etc.

Joakim wrote a book on the topic “Courage”. In this episode, he will tell us more about it and how to get out of our comfort zone and how to face our fears.


Johan Bertil: “Well, I'm Johan Bertil Muschött and I'm sitting here with my dad today outside in the beautiful Värmdö, in the archipelago of Stockholm. Dad is a professional coach and has also been working as a career counselor since 2003.You have also written a book about courage and today you want to talk about why courage is so important for job seekers, is that right?”

Joakim: “Yes, yes it is.”

Johan Bertil:  “Fine, so how do you want to do this pod?”

Joakim: “I want to explain what courage is, why it is so difficult and demanding to be courageous and why courage is so important for job seekers and last how you can train.”

Johan Bertil  “Sounds good. Okay, so what is courage?”

Joakim: “Courage is embracing fear and doing the things you want to do even though you're scared of doing them and the action is risky. Courage is overcoming fear, courage is acting even though you're scared. Many people I meet, they think of courage as the opposite of fear but instead fear is the prerequisite of courage. Without fear there is no courage.”

Johan Bertil: “Sounds demanding as you said.”

Joakim: “Yes, it is, and courage is also something individual. We all have our unique comfort zone that will expand when we leave the zone and shrink, when we for some time or reason, decide not to leave the zone. You can say that courage is an individual muscle that grows when you train. Unfortunately, we do the mistake of comparing ourselves with other people with different comfort zone than our own. We look at other people and think “Oh god, he is so courageous and I'm not!”; sometimes without knowing them all.  What other people do can be inside of their comfort zone but outside of our own. But [that] doesn't mean that they're more courageous than us. This goes to prove that we have different comfort zones and that each individual decides and defines what courage is for him or her.

Johan Bertil: “Could you give an example of what you mean?”

Joakim: “Yes, take somebody that's holding a speech or seminar - that's one thing many people [are] really afraid of doing. I was afraid of that many years ago; I mean being in the spotlight, everybody's listening, asking questions maybe that you can't answer. Today, that's nothing to me anymore. So I am not courageous holding speeches today since I have no fear of doing it. Holding speeches is inside of my comfort zone but was outside of the zone when I started.”

Johan Bertil: “So what you mean is that you're not more courageous doing so even if some people think you are?”

Joakim: “Right. It's inside my comfort zone but maybe outside of theirs. Problem is, as I said, that we always compare ourselves with others.”

Johan Bertil: “Yeah, I understand. You also said earlier that being courageous is really demanding. What did you mean by that?”

Joakim:  “Yeah, we human beings are hardwired for security and also hardwired for connection. We like to belong, we want to belong to someone or something, a group, team, tribe or a neighbourhood, even the hipster! Even though they think they're manifesting their individuality, they want to belong to a group. I mean if not why would they dress exactly the same way, right?”

Johan Bertil:  “Right.”

Joakim: “Courage means overcoming fear and leaving the comfort zone. Since we are hardwired for security and connection our system will tell us to stay inside the comfort zone, when we feel scared or experience a risk. And deep inside we are primitive mammals. When we lived in tribes in the savannah we wouldn't survive without the tribe. The evolution works really slow and deep inside we still think that being without the tribe will lead to a certain death for us.Even if intellectually we know it's not true, some parts of our brains have a very old system and still work according to the savannah reality. Courage means overcoming fear and the thing we are most afraid of is failure. If we fail we feel shame, which is a very powerful emotion that we are trying to avoid. Shame means that we are worthless and not worthy of love.”

Johan Bertil: “And then we'll be excluded from the tribe, you mean?”

Joakim: “Yes exactly. If we fail, the tribe might also think that we are worthless, a big risk to them, and maybe they will cast us out. So the modern human being with the old brain wanting to be brave and take that risk of failing might face death. That's why it’s so demanding. Courage for us means having to work against our own natural security system.

Johan Bertil: “We will not feel better even if we fail once in a while?”

Joakim: “Yes of course, if we fail, we might learn from our mistakes and we’ll also experience that we survived and that was worth the effort - without failure no development. I mean, you can't develop yourself inside the comfort zone. I mean life starts outside the zone.

But if you want to leave your comfort zone, you have to let go of control and control is another thing that makes courage really demanding. And control has a high value in our society. If you're in control, or it looks like you are in control, it’s something positive. Control is a high status thing. Being afraid has no value at all. If you admit that you're afraid or scared of something, people might think that you are weak. They'll not want you in the tribe, being with you might mean a risk. So instead of risking being seen as a weak, most people will stay inside of their comfort zone without taking a chance of being courageous, risking failure. Even when we’re getting close to the borders of our comfort zone, we’ll start to get scared. And the fear is telling us that we are on the dangerous track, we might fail: get back to safety!

Of course I mean, we don't fail all the time. We succeed a lot of times so there's a lot of benefits with being courageous. You experience that you're capable of a lot of things that you didn't think you were. Your self-esteem and your self-confidence will  increase. You will make progress in a lot of areas in your life.”

Johan Bertil: “That's really interesting. I've never actually thought about fear and courage that way. Sometimes you see people acting and they don't seem scared at all.”

Joakim: “Yes, but if they were scared why would they tell you? I mean since fear is a low status thing… And sometimes when we see people act they might already have overcome their fear you don't know.”

Johan Bertil:  “So there are no fears in these people?”

Joakim: “Of course there is. People moving inside of their own comfort zone have no fear. And there are also Daredevils. Daredevils just act. They see something they want and just go for it. But daredevils are not courageous. They just act without thinking or letting in their feelings come to mind. They might just pick up the phone for an important job call without thinking about it first or planning it. Whereas the courageous person feels his fear about the same telephone call, plans the call, overcomes the fear and finally makes the call.”

Johan Bertil: “Okay, yeah you mentioned a job. I know that you said that a job seeker [leads] one of the world's most demanding and lonely projects. What did you mean by that?”

Joakim: “Well as I said deep inside we want to belong to a tribe or group. Leaving a job or being laid off from work is having to leave the tribe, maybe the most important tribe we have, since we define ourselves very much according to the job we have. Even though we maybe have a career coach to help us and family and friends to back us up. I mean family and friends are also really important tribe. So we might feel lonely anyway, as an outcast that nobody wants to hire, even though you have family and friends around you. They don't know what it means to be a job seeker if they don't have the experience. I've been a career coach since 2003 and I met so many smart and competent professionals that struggle with the feeling of worthlessness and loneliness that is very common when running the jobs seeking project. That's why it’s so demanding.”

Johan Bertil: “Yeah but what else?”

Joakim: “Well, traditionally job seeking is about waiting for the ads to come, writing applications to them. Too much waiting drains you in energy, you get passive. Think of a car -  that you’re a driver of the car.  Only answering ads is sitting in the backseat of the car and letting somebody else make all the decisions for you, since you have to wait for the right ads to come out. There are a lot of more ways of finding a job but they demand courage. To optimize the project, I mean making it the shortest possible, you have to put yourself behind the wheel and take actions.”

Johan Bertil: “Yeah and leave the comfort zone.”

Joakim: “Yes, exactly. One of the things I train job seekers to do is spontaneous applications. That's contacting organizations that doesn't have any ads on their ]website, [so] apparently have no open positions at all, contact those organizations and ask if they have any needs of recruiting somebody.”

Johan Bertil: “You mean selling yourself over the phone?”

Joakim: “No, I don't mean that, don't try to sell yourself over the phone. Ask if they have any needs to hire somebody. The purpose is to get information about your job market so that you can make strategic moves in your job seeking project. Those that might have an opening in the future and match your own requirements you send spontaneous application to. But this action of taking contact is demanding since there's a big risk that the organizations might have no needs at all and you might feel rejected. Rejection creates guilt and shame that you’re automatically trying to avoid. Of course, you’ll also risks being rejected when you send applications to ads. Maybe you not even come close to an interview even when you feel competent enough. So the risk of feeling rejected is everywhere in this project and that is something demanding that the jobseeker has to face. The effective jobseeker must face the risk of being rejected - and the feeling of worthlessness and being an outcast might come with it - and most jobseekers won’t.

Johan Bertil: “They will only focus on ads, you mean?”

Joakim: “Yeah, but in that case [they] face other risks, for example risking to prolong their job seeking project. And also risk waiting for the right ad to come up [which] will be energy draining. And the competition is much bigger when just applying for ads. So to be a successful job seeker you have to be courageous.”

Johan Bertil: “Yeah courage sounds really important. How do you train courage?”

Joakim: “Several ways. One way is to stay in and accept your nervousness. When you're getting close to the comfort zone you get nervous and anxious and want to leave but stay there breathe and say to yourself out loud - this is how it should feel. This is okay, I am okay!”

Johan Bertil: “I'm okay?!”

Joakim: “Yes, I am okay. This is how it should feel. It's natural, I'm nervous and scared because I am about to leave the comfort zone. Stand in front of the mirror and say it out loud and when you feel your heart is pounding just take deep breaths. Then do the thing you want to do. I mean next time you get close to the comfort zone you'll feel the same nervousness, you’ll still feel scared, but you know from previous experience it was okay doing it. And with savannah language - you're going to survive. You will do it more often and then you will get used to be scared.”

Johan Bertil: “Okay so that is one thing you could do, you know, say to yourself that the nervousness is natural in other words acknowledge yourself. [And] what else?”

Joakim: “You could also create resistance to shame. As I said earlier, shame is a strong feeling of discontent that prevents us from being courageous. If we fail we might think of ourselves as worthless, not worthy of love and belonging, and we feel shame. You can’t get rid of shame by pretending it is not there! So the best thing is to create resistance to it. You can do that by talking to somebody that you trust, somebody that will listen to you without giving you advice or judge you.”

Johan Bertil: “Okay but how?”

Joakim: “Well first start with acknowledging the shame that you might feel. Everybody that can feel empathy can also feels shame, so you're not alone! Shame is a natural feeling that most people experience in awkward, demanding or embarrassing situations. Try to understand what triggers the shame inside of you. Try to understand why you feel shame.And secondly, share your history with somebody that you trust - tell them when and how you feel shame. Tell the person just to listen not to give you advice or anything. And third, listen to the other person's story and acknowledge that person and both of you will see that your feelings are normal and natural. It will normalize your feelings you will feel less alone and that will make you more courageous. And also think about the bonuses with being courageous: higher self-esteem and self-confidence, progress in your job seeking project and in your life and the feeling of that you actually can be in control of your life and [be] doing something that you really want to do.”

Johan Bertil: “That's really good. Do you think you could summarize this for the listeners…”

Joakim: “Yes of course! Okay, so courage is embracing fear, to overcome your fear and do what you're afraid of. Without fear there is no courage. Courage is demanding since it's about living with fear and risk and leaving the comfort zone. As human beings we are hardwired for security and connection, we are primitive mammals needing a tribe or a flock. Courage means risking to fail and for our old brains failing might mean being excluded from the tribe and face death.

Courage means showing yourself as you truly are that might also conflict with the tribe or flock normes and you might feel alone. That’s why courage is so demanding. Running an effective job seeking project takes courage and doing spontaneous applications, and going to an interview and committing yourself to necessary steps to find jobs faster, you will need courage. 

There are several ways to train courage. For example, staying in your nervousness and accept[ing] those feelings. Or creating a resistance to shame together with a friend by sharing stories about your shame triggers. And acknowledge each other without judging, or giving advice, just saying: I understand how you feel. I've been there myself. 

And if you read and understand Swedish, you can check out my book “Mera Mod” that will give you more tips on courage.”

Johan Bertil: “Thank you and that wraps it up for today. I hope you enjoyed listening. I am Johan Bertil Muschött signing off from Värmdö, Sweden.”

Joakim: “Thank you very much. Bye bye.”

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