Cultivating Courage

I’m a big advocate for courage – it has changed my life.

Courage is the ability to do something you are afraid of. It is strength in the face of pain or grief. The word courage comes from the Latin word for heart, and at its core, courage is the energy it takes to move forward, to do something without knowing the outcome, to take action that matters despite potential risk. Courage gives us the ability to put aside our fear of failure and take the first steps. It helps us overcome the fear of rejection and reach out. Courage allows us to attempt new things, despite our fear of looking foolish. Courage is the energy to take a radical stand in our lives for who we are and what matters to us. It’s the ability to show up wholeheartedly in our lives, as our real self, and live by what we value despite our fears.

Here are a few things I know are true about courage.

  1. Courage will expand your life.
  2. You become courageous by practising courage. It is not some innate attribute that you either have or do not have.
  3. You can’t be courageous unless you are also afraid. Fear and courage are two sides of the same coin.
  4. Like fear, courage is contagious. – practise it in one area, and the effects will ripple through your life.

Here are a few helpful tips for becoming more courageous:

  1. Make a choice to develop courage in your life. Start doing things that matter to you even if they make you afraid. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about putting yourself in the path of legitimate danger by doing things that have life or death consequences. I’m talking about the kind of fears that diminish us and decrease our capacity – they make our lives smaller. Make a list of those kinds of fears. Everything on that list holds a bit of your power. Make a decision to start reclaiming your power.
  2. Being courageous is like building a muscle.  Just like exercise, start with something small and work your way up to heavier courage weights. It helps to do something every day (or at least once a week) that will stretch and expand your courage capacity.
  3. Fear of how things will turn out can make you freeze and sabotage your efforts – when doing something that causes you to fear, let go of your attachment to the way things will turn out – this will help your body and brain not to treat your action as a lethal threat. See it this way – just by taking action you are moving towards becoming courageous.
  4. Expect things to get messy – personal growth and progress can happen only if we give ourselves permission to fail. Remember that the things that you now find easy were once difficult.
  5. Support and Accountability make a difference – Having someone on our side who believes in us helps, especially if we communicate our desire to become more courageous and set up some sort of accountability with that person. Spend time with others who are also trying to live more bravely.
  6. Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. Practise being open and honest about who you are, what you are feeling and about your experiences (both good and bad).

Here’s how I’m practising being courageous in the next few weeks – I’ll be speaking in front of about 200 people at International Women’s Day, and I’ll be running some Cultivating Courage workshops.

What will you do to cultivate courage this week?

Remember, courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice that says, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. (Mary Anne Radmacher)

I am a writer, speaker and courage coach. Connect with me. Learn more about coaching with me. Learn more about me.

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