Is Bravery the Opposite of Procrastination?

In the past two months, I have done some wonderfully brave things. I picked myself up, dusted off my chaps, straightened my hat, and got back on the horse.


I have also felt lethargy, anxiety, and rejection.


However, I am being creative and strategic in my work. My son has had some life-impacting successes, my daughter is doing great in college, and my husband is a superstar at work. Our family is thriving.


Life is often a collection of opposites.


Yesterday was a rainy day in Savannah, Georgia. As I stared at my task list with my computer screen framed by a gray, stormy backdrop, I wanted to do exactly nothing.


So, I did the opposite.


I submitted a manuscript to two publishers, did some promotional work on my eBooks that I had been procrastinating, called a friend who is having a bad time, and moved the progress dates on a few tasks that wouldn’t suffer for a delay.


It felt a lot like bravery.


I’ve defined procrastination in prior posts, so I won’t get into that here.


But, let’s unpack the concept of bravery.


My favorite quote about bravery is this one:


“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” ~Franklin Roosevelt


Many notable people have said different versions of the above, but I like the “assessment” portion of Roosevelt’s statement. Other scholars talk about courage using words like “capacity” or “ability.”


When we assess the relative importance of two courses of action, we are prioritizing.


When we obsess about whether we have the ability (or capacity) to be brave, we are procrastinating.


Bravery is action.


I want to be brave. When I am close to the end of my life, I want to feel like I approached it bravely. I want to take risks, do things that have a potential for great impact, and put myself (and my work) “out there” for evaluation from others.


Bravery means that I will experience rejection.


Bravery means that I will feel anxiety.


Bravery means that I will have to act when I feel like hiding.



Action precedes motivation.


One of the more annoying truisms I have spouted to my children from time to time is:


Motivation is a result of action, not a cause of it.


After their eyes roll out of their sockets, they go do their homework.


If we do develop an ability or capacity for bravery, it is a result of action. That means that, like motivation, bravery is a skill that people develop.


We feel motivated after doing productive things.


We feel brave after doing scary things.



I will be brave.


I will keep doing the scary things.


Giddy up, horse.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Keith Morgan

    I really got this one, Melissa.
    And, I needed it for my next week of endeavor.

    Thank you!

    Glad Eric and the kids are doing well!

    Regards, Keith Morgan

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thanks, Keith! Keep being brave.

  2. Seana Turner

    I so agree, Melissa, that the emotional “hit” comes after we have taken the brave step. Sort of like knowing that I’ll feel better after I exercise. It is so easy to succumb to malaise right not, but taking a step forward can be motivating and energizing. I think many of us are exploring new technologies, for example, which can be intimidating. But won’t it be great to be able to look back and realize we’ve all become proficient using a few technologies we had previously resisted?

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thanks, Seana. When I feel intimidated, the GTD adage of the “next action” is so helpful to me. I don’t have to worry about the BIG accomplishment. All I have to do is focus on my next action.

  3. Janet Barclay

    Thank you for these words of wisdom! I’m still busy, but some days I feel like it doesn’t matter whether I get stuff done or not. You’re helping me to keep my eye on the big picture.

  4. Linda Samuels

    I hear your message so clearly. I also know that now is a different time from others. Usually, I can muster the energy to push forward. But in this time of uncertainty, I am a bit gentler towards myself. I’m not sitting around doing nothing, but there are moments or days when “nothing” is just what’s needed. That choice of only being does feel like the brave thing rather than continue to push and strive as if things are business as usual. There is nothing ordinary about this time.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      So true, Linda. In one of Seana Turner’s posts recently, she said that “Success will look different than it did two months ago.” Bravery also looks different today than it did just two weeks ago. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Diane Quintana

    I really like how you laid this out. I think most of us are being brave these days by admitting we’re fearful and still doing what we need to do. I’m not actively moving as many things forward as I’d like – not for lack of motivation but because I’m finding myself in a bit of a fog from time to time. So, when that happens, I let the fog clear and get back to work.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Letting the fog clear and getting back to work sounds more like heroism to me! Thank you for the important work you do, Diane.


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