What is courage and why do so many people want more of it?
Recently, I gave a talk for 150 women about courage.
While researching, I came across some information that has influenced my life every day since.
Although bravery and courage are presented as synonyms, there is a profound philosophical difference.
Bravery is an innate quality that signals an absence of fear. There's nothing to overcome. For example, when it comes to speaking in public, I'm brave. I don't have a fear around it. In fact, I LOVE public speaking!
Courage is different because it means acting in spite of fear (such as in this leap my daughter Zoë took 7 years ago).
I once had the opportunity to swallow fire. Let me tell you, there was definitely fear around putting a flaming rag into my mouth and extinguishing the fire with my lips. I actually did it (pretty amazing, right?!?) because there was something greater than the fear.
Courage occurs because we are moving towards an ideal. It might be love, compassion, passion, benevolence, accountability or some other big idea. To swallow fire, the ideal that was greater than the fear was Contribution. It was a team challenge and I wanted to contribute rather than disappoint.
With bravery, the action just happens. With courage, a decision must be made. Will you allow fear to be the gatekeeper, or will you move through that gate to experience the ideal that's on the other side?
Isn't that valuable information?
Since I learned the difference between bravery and courage, I've developed an awareness of how often I'm called to make courageous decisions on a daily basis.
It seems to help, having that awareness, so I'll share a process I developed with you on how to give your courage muscle a workout.
1. Notice when you're unwilling/unable to move forward.
2. Acknowledge the area in your mind and in your body.
3. Determine the ideal that you're moving towards. For example, I'm moving through the fear of _______ because I value the ideal of ________.
4. Speak, write, or think about the phrase above by filling in the blanks. For example, I'm moving through the fear of speaking my truth because I value the ideal of personal growth.
5. Once you've taken the action, revel in how you feel. Enjoy feeling proud of yourself, victorious, expanded, jubilant or however you feel.
6. Record your accomplishment by writing it down, either immediately or at the end of the day. By developing this habit, you'll have a record of your courageous moments and evidence that you are, in fact, a courageous person.
What we focus on expands. Imagine the possibilities that will emerge in your life when you focus on courage.
This process could transform your life, starting now.
Do you have the courage to take action?