- On August 30, 2017
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
— Nelson Mandela
I used to think that courage was some magical thing reserved for the Medal of Honor winner who runs into the face of fire to save his comrades or the protester in Tiananmen Square or Selma Alabama who stands firm in the face of certain brutality.
Courage can be that extreme and public and it can also be as subtle as rolling out of bed in the morning to face one more day. It’s how each and every one of us finds our way out of fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, or desperation to take a step towards change.
Courage shows up in so many little, and life-changing, ways.
When you finally admit that what you have been doing successfully for the last 10 or 20 years is no longer feeding your soul.
When you realize you can’t do it alone and you take the risk to ask for someone’s help.
When you muster your most genuine thoughts and put an idea out there knowing it may be different from what people are comfortable with.
Courage is a precarious place. You finally get up the nerve to do something a little different and maybe you get shot down. It doesn’t work. You feel the full weight of judgment.
It’s easy to give up. “I must be wrong.” “They don’t appreciate it.” “Well, I tried.”
In my powerful work with clients on the 7 Levels of Effectiveness*, courage is that amazing place of opening.
Of realizing there is a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Of finding your own voice.
Of realizing you are not alone in your struggle.
Of celebrating small steps even if they don’t work out the way you expect the first, or second, or third time.
It’s only through courage that you can appreciate your own strength and fortitude. Courage is the lifeline to better things.
I’m calling on courage today as I start work with a new client. We are just at the beginning of establishing that trust relationship that is the underpinning of coaching effectiveness. And there is that nagging voice in my head that says,
Can you do this?
Will you serve her well?
Are you good enough for what he needs?
If I let these voices have their say, I swirl around in a state of self-doubt, anxiety, frustration, fear. How can I be present for others if that’s where I am?
Actively calling on courage, in this case, is reaffirming my confidence in my own education and development. Trusting that what I know is more than enough to lead me to the right thing for that moment; recalling that it has many times before. Courage enables me to take the focus off myself and put it fully on the person I am coaching, exactly where it is supposed to be.
How does Courage show up in your everyday life?
* 7 Levels of Effectiveness is a trademarked neuroscience –based approach to creating more impact at the personal, group, and organization level. I am licensed by BEabove Leadership to train individuals and groups in this method.
Photo credit: JMaliszewski, 2013, Monumento al viento, Puerto Natales, Chile