Do you wish sometimes you would be more courageous, take more risks and step outside your comfort zone? Would you like to be more bold, when it comes to speaking your mind, having boundaries or making a difference in your life? But what is courage really and how do you get more of it?
Whenever I was about to go on vacation with my friends during my teenage years, my dad took me aside and said: “Son, courage is to know when to say no.” I have to admit, this was pretty solid advice, considering that a group of teenage boys could potentially push each other to do a lot of crazy things.
According to the dictionary, courage is defined as ‘the ability to do something, even though it frightens you’. In other words, to be courageous requires you to face your fears, which for most people is too scary to even consider. And even if you chose to become braver by pushing through your fears, you may have ended up just more scared and defeated. Just like a client of mine, who tried to build his courage by combating his fears of heights with a series of skydives. After 30 jumps he had to finally admit to himself that his attempt had failed, as his fears had turned into debilitating panic attacks.
But what if there are other ways to build your courage without triggering your fears? The origin of the word courage can be traced back to the Anglo-French ‘coeur’, which means heart. Having courage can therefore also mean having heart, which is more in line with this definition: ‘to have the confidence to do and stand up for what you believe in.’
Personally, I don’t consider myself as hyper-courageous; I would never skydive or bungee jump; roller-coasters, haunted houses or horror movies aren’t my idea of a good time. And even my driving style has been called ‘grandpa-esque.’ Yet, I have made three significant career changes, started my own business, lived in four different countries and asked Danielle to move from Tennessee to Seattle, even though we just had met a couple of weeks before. While on paper these live-changing choices may have required a lot of courage, it didn’t feel like I was battling my fears at the time I made them. Of course, I had my moments of doubt and worry. After all, if our dreams don’t scare us a little, they are not big enough. But for the most part my bravest decisions were propelled by a deep sense of clarity, purpose and joy.
I believe we are all innately bold. It takes enormous courage to depart the comfort of the mother’s womb for the great unknown world; to move from crawling to standing upright and taking the first steps forward; to encounter new kids and start playing with them. Yet, what drives us to those early braveries isn’t the desire to overcome our fears, but the quest to explore what else is possible for us to enjoy and experience.
It is when we are in alignment with our dreams and heart’s desires that being courageous no longer triggers our fears. It is this form of courage that fueled your decision to leave your hometown and go to college, say ‘yes’ to a committed relationship, get married, have kids etc. And this is the courage you need to continue to make your life more expansive, meaningful and fulfilling.
Listen to Empowerment Radio this Thursday, June 6th at 9AM PT / 12PM ET and learn how connecting to this heart-sourced form of courage makes becoming more courageous easy and enjoyable.