This month I was interview by Megan Raphael, author of The Courage Code, on her monthly call, Conversations with a Woman of Courage. I enjoyed my time with everyone on the call. Thank you, Megan. You can visit Megan's website and listen to her courage conversations at http://www.courageproject.com/workshops.html
So I've found myself musing about courage. My dictionary tells me, that courage is "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear." I don't believe it. Who are we kidding? When did we learn that courage means without fear? I must have been absent that day. Why can't fear sit side by side with the valor and victory we associate with courageous acts? And how did this definition get so distorted? A quick trip to my etymology dictionary tells me that the Latin root of courage, cor, means heart, “which remains a common metaphor for inner strength.” When I am being courageous, my courage comes from my heart in spite of my fear, not instead of it.
In more primitive times, our courageous acts were merely a fear-induced survival instinct to fight or flee from an immediate danger. We survived because of a nice, healthy fear. Today, mostly, we fear the consequences of imagined things yet to come, not anything real and looming. So today's courageous acts are our willingness to move through our contrived fear. That kind of courage comes from a softer more intuitive and “heart-felt” feeling that our conviction about what we desire is greater than our imagined fear. When we have that sense, that knowing from our heart and not our mind that our convictions are right, we don't need to fight or flee. We simply flow.
So as 2007 ends, take a look at your manufactured fears and use them to do something courageous, something heartfelt, for yourself. I’ll smile and wave as I see you bouncing downstream and flowing gently into 2008. Cheers!
Here are a few Courage quotes to take to "heart."
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmoon
"Courage is tiny pieces of fear all glued together." Irisa Hail
"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway." John Wayne