“When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don’t touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people?” ~Tori Amos
I’ve been doing a lot of work with my clients lately on courage and I got very curious about what courage means.
As I turned to the various dictionaries, I found some define courage as lacking fear in a situation that would normally generate it. Others, in contrast, hold that courage requires one to have fear and then overcome it.
I thought the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined it best: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
I believe feeling the fear (and doing it anyway) is an important factor in courage. I believe fear is the determining feeling that tells you whether or not you are being courageous. I learned that when I am playing Bigger Games in my life, that feeling of “Gulp!” is a necessary part of being courageous. If you don’t feel that “Gulp!” you are not stretching your courage muscle. If you don’t feel that “Gulp!” you are just doing what you’ve always done. As my coach says, it’s that feeling of “scary exhilaration.” And watch out, it is a very exciting feeling and can become a bit addictive.
Courage takes action. Many think courageous acts are big and bold. I also believe many little quiet things are the ones that are courageous.
When I ask my clients, “What’s stopping you from being courageous?” there are many answers. Peers stop us in our tracks merely by their looks or the shaking of their heads. Our past experiences put restrictions on our present actions. Complacency. Our assumptions about ourselves. We’re not good enough, smart enough, know enough. Our assumptions about other people that if I do this, they’ll react this way. The vision we hold of ourselves. Fear of the unknown. And on… and on… and on…
I believe courage can be learned should you choose to learn it. Let me put that another way. I believe courage can be learned should you have the courage to learn it.
What do you wish you had the courage to do?
What’s stopping you from being courageous?
What assumptions do you have of yourself… of others… that is stopping you?
If you did that courageous act, what’s the worst that can happen?
“Courage is like any other muscle. It strengthens by use.” ~ Ruth Gordon