There are many different kinds of courage. While firefighters embody the courage necessary for physical danger, others must cultivate the courage to face emotional danger. Many of us require courage to face our internal truths; others need courage to consider the truths of other people, and often, we are grappling with both. As Winston Churchill so profoundly stated:
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit does and listen.
How does fear affect the quality of your life?
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.-Anais Nin
Fear does serve an important role. It’s the signal that we need to pay attention and get to safety. It has kept the human race going strong. It keeps us from entering dangerous territory of all kinds. It definitely has its place. However, it’s important to sort out the relationship between fear and courage in order to take action.
Unfortunately, we don’t need the fear that often shows up in modern life. This type of fear loves to masquerade as our inner critic, the voice in our head that keeps us in a place where we watch our dreams and goals pass us by, and along with them the chance to feel the happiness of being who we really want to be and doing what we really want to do. But with courage, clients can silence their inner critic enough to leap into action.
And it’s also important to note that small acts of courage in everyday life can have lasting effects on oneself and the environment. Cumulatively, they can bring about lasting change in oneself and a culture, especially when they come from a strong mindset and disciplined practice. In other words, strength of character comes not just from knowing the right thing to do but actually doing the right thing in an ongoing way.
Daily courage might looks like this:
- Saying something that no one else is willing to say
- Maintaining self-control and grace under attack
- Speaking your truth when it’s very different from what others expect
- Trying something new that you are afraid to do
- Putting your heart on the line with no guarantee of the outcome you want
- Standing up for your own happiness and well being
- Stopping others from taking advantage of you
- Saying no to guilt-tripping or other forms of manipulation
- Saying yes when something fits with your values
There are also times when courage needs to be marshaled in the service of something monumental. In this event, careful preparation will make a big difference in whether we actually change the trajectory of our lives in the way we want. After all, there will be ancillary effects on ourselves and others that we cannot predict, so the future can feel uncertain.
Special occasion courage might look like this:
- Going after a new job or career
- Leaving a job or relationships that is unhealthy
- Addressing a health crisis
- Making a public presentation
- Initiating a divorce
- Moving to a new place
- Accepting a leadership position
- Starting a business
Courage, then comes in many shapes and sizes and is a very important component to success. Clients can be clear about who they are and what they want. They can have their highest values defined and a list of goals to go with them. They can have loads of personal self-awareness, a great plan and tons of focus. They might even have lots of confidence. But to create and sustain forward motion on goals and dreams, there will be fears and where there are fears there must be courage. So to have the life you want, courage matters a lot.