How Courageous are You?

 

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.

~John Wayne

 

Who is the most courageous person you know?

If you come from a family of military men and women, whose expressed bravery to protect our country is a given, undoubtedly you are in awe of their ability to put their life on the line.

Perhaps it is police officers and firefighters whose willingness to confront danger that you respect most.

As Americans, courage is in our DNA.  It was courage that allowed our ancestors to travel by ship to an unknown land and begin life anew.  It was courage that allowed settlers to expand westward, looking for  new opportunities. Immigrants today are no less courageous in bringing their families in search of a better life.

 

What Exactly is Courage?

 

The dictionary defines courage as the quality shown by someone who decides to do something difficult or dangerous, even though they may be afraid.

Courage is derived from the Latin, cor, meaning heart.  The Medieval Old French term corage meant “heart and spirit.” Evidently, at the outset, courage originally meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’

Thus, it follows that courage can encompass more than mere physical bravery.

 

An Emotional Commitment

 

Courage requires a strong emotional commitment, a commitment from the heart, to some idea or ideal.

Courage is knowing what is right and acting on it.

When I think of courage, I visualize Malala Yousafzai , the Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban for her right to be educated.  Hers was a physical courage combined with MORAL courage.

Not only did Malala survive being shot in the head by the Taliban, but because of her bravery she became recognized as a global advocate for human rights, women’s rights and the right to education, winning the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17.

She continues to exemplify courage as she travels and speaks of her ordeal, reliving it over and over.

 

Everyday Courage

 

If you are paying attention, you will see courage around you, every day.

Taking a stand, for anything, requires courage.

Colin Kaepernick, whether you agree with his #takeaknee or not, shows tremendous courage. He has put his reputation, his career and his financial future at risk to bring visibility to racial profiling and injustice.

The Parkland students have become courageous activists, transforming their sorrow and outrage into a movement for more sensible gun legislation.  Their choice to stand tall and speak their truth, despite derision and ridicule, requires a bravery that I am quite sure I would not have possessed as a teenager.

Of course we assign bravery to the people who risk betterment of the whole but courage isn’t something that is solely reserved for the larger than life experiences.

You become courageous every time you stand up for what is right.

 

That Gremlin of Fear

 

We all have some place in our lives where we feel self doubt, hesitation and fear..that place where we second guess ourselves, where feelings of “not enough” hold us hostage.

Everyone, at one time or another, faces the choice to either go along with the status quo simply because it’s easy or to set out on difficult road of doing what we know in our hearts is right.

We may hesitate to rock the boat, for fear of judgement, fear of ridicule, fear of failure.

Fear can make us believe that change is impossible, that trying is not worth the effort. We become afraid of something that hasn’t even happened!!

Fear wants to keep us safe, by playing small.

It takes courage to chart a new course.

 

                                it takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are  

e.e.cummings 

 

Embracing Courage

 

It was during a bout of my own self doubt that the Universe introduced me to Sandra Ford Walston, the Courage Expert.

In an extended phone conversation Sandra reminded me that “courage is really about acting from our heart and our spirit, from the center of our being, which is our true identity, hidden beneath the false self of the ego. By tapping into our courage, we are able to stand in our true Selves, our solid core.

Learning to stay courage-centered in the present may not banish fear or the self-blame it spawns, but it will at least begin to diminish the tendencies that keep us stuck in fear. Fear blocks and paralyzes the heart and ultimately, fear blocks courage.”

 

“You can chose courage or you can chose comfort, but you can’t have both.”

~Brene Brown 

Today’s Need for Courage

 

We are living in a time when fear abounds.  Open the newspaper, turn on your television, log onto any social media site, listen in on coffee shop conversation and you will hear it.

Fear. Fear of the Unknown. Fear of Change.

We are being asked to provide new solutions for complicated problems : global warming, marine pollution, racial inequality, displaced immigrants, social injustice, housing shortages, health care inadequacies, economic inequality, racism, sexism….the list goes on.

Each of us brings a perspective as individualized as our experiences.  Your wisdom offers facets of understanding that I cannot begin to know. Your eyes have seen things that mine have not.

In sharing our authentic, independent realities, past and present, we have a shot at constructing a future that works for everyone.

And that brings up all kinds of fears.

Not the least of which is Fear of Failure

So the question becomes will we let the fear paralyze us ?

Or as John Wayne so eloquently states…will we saddle up anyway?

 

Ready to build your courage muscle?

~Read:

Courage….the Heart and Spirit of Every Woman , Sandra Ford Walston. 

The Courage to be Disliked,  Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi,  newly available in the USA, has sold 3.5 million copies across Asia..

Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy’s seminal 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators. The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.

 

~Watch:

Courage is Contagious Damon Davis’ Ted talk about the courage he witnessed in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

                                                 

See You in the Saddle!

Rose

                                             

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.     

~ Anais Nin