I recently had the chance to attend a thought-provoking, community-building workshop with The Goodness Collaborative. Part of the workshop was a panel of local entrepreneurs who shared their stories of the journey they each had taken that led them to be sitting in front of all of us, sharing their thoughts and ideas and experiences. There was an underlying theme of the workshop in recognizing courage and the role it has in our lives as we grow, expand, and change. Hearing the panelist share their own experiences with having courage got me to thinking – how exactly does courage show up in my life?
Courage is defined by Merriam-Webster as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”. Before attending this event, I can’t say that I spent a lot of time identifying the role that courage has in my life. Isn’t courage something reserved for people facing life-threatening illnesses? Or for the people like firefighters who risk their lives on a daily basis for the safety of others? What could I possibly do that could be defined as courageous?
I wondered what would happen if I started to recognize courage or the action of having courage and, in turn, gave that feeling space and energy to grow. I figured I should probably start by identifying what courage felt like for me, or how I personally defined it, since I’m not in the business of regularly taking major risks, making life altering decisions or putting myself into potential danger. This quick little activity was MUCH harder than I anticipated and I found myself giving way to all of the little, mini self-sabotage habits that I employ when I start to feel uncomfortable or I want to avoid some hard self-reflection.
I (finally) defined courage as any time of my day that I stuck with something that I felt internal resistance to; in my actions, in my conversations, and in my self-talk. It turns out, I tap into my courage WAY more often than I gave myself credit for. It also turns out, that I have a tendency to avoid reaching into that very same courage bucket when I really need to (see above regarding self-sabotaging habits).
Everyday things like parenting through challenging behavior in the grocery store, communicating about holiday season finances with my husband, reaching out to a friend that I hadn’t heard from in a while and scheduling a doctors appointment for myself were all times that I heard that little internal voice saying “it would be so easy to just skip this … or try again later!” I was reminded that by paying attention to the “adulting things” that are less than fun and dipping into that bucket of courage to get something done that took some emotional resilience, I was able to be more present in my life. Instead of actively avoiding something, I was able to take action and enjoy the sense of control and accomplishment.
In turn, I was able to recognize other, larger areas of my life that I was skirting around or putting off for later. Things like planning the next steps in my career, putting myself out there to meet and make connections with people in a different community and making time for self-care in my day. By identifying the role of courage in my life with the little things, I had some practice when it came to doing some critical self-reflection of other areas with bigger implications for growth for myself and my family. It turns out, the opportunity for courage shows up everywhere and is so empowering when you tap into it for self-growth!
What does courage look like for you and how does it show up in your daily life?