Finding Courage

Are you one that finds comfort in security or do you classify yourself as a risk-taker? I, for one, have always been a girl with a plan and one who minimizes risk as much as possible. However, over the last year, I have interacted with many individuals whose thinking goes outside the box of social norms/expectations and it has had an impact on my own perspective. I’m beginning to see that there is “more than one way to skin a cat” and that different does not necessarily equate bad or wrong.

Like so many others, on January 1, I reflected on the upcoming year and wrote down a few goals that I thought would not only challenge me but also make 2018 more meaningful than last. I set the intention to make this year the best year ever and my vision was clear in how to achieve just that.

Since then, I have been working towards accomplishing those goals and in just 1 month, I’ll be coming to a crossroads….one direction leading me down a path of comfort and security and the other, leading me toward risk and uncertainty.  Regardless of which path I choose, I feel courage will need to be mustered up as I put one foot in front of the other.  

We all face “opportunities” big and small each and every day that takes a bit of courage. When presented with such opportunities, here are a few tips to help you take action:

#1 The 5 Second Rule:  The key to being brave is not dwelling on the situation at hand. The more time we have to ponder and “hee-haw” back and forth, the more likely it is we will get stuck in fear  and convince ourselves of all the reasons why we shouldn’t or couldn’t. Instead, I encourage you to use the 5 second rule (I believe there is even a book with this title) and take action after counting down from 5. It’s that simple.

#2 Fail Forward: As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon to have that inner voice in our head telling us all the reasons it’s a bad idea (whatever “it” is). Please, give yourself permission to fail forward. Replace the need for perfection with the idea that good is good enough and be okay with making (and learning from) mistakes. The important thing is that you try. After all, in the end you’ll only regret the chances you don’t take.

#3 Breathe: When you do find yourself overwhelmed with fear and/or anxiety, take 6 (at minimum) slow deep breaths in and out. This allows your muscles to relax, your heart rate to slow down, and improves mental concentration. As you breathe, observe the feelings happening within and let it pass through. Be detective like in watching the emotion happen instead of being ruled by it. For example, if you are thinking “I am afraid” rephrase it as “I am having thoughts that I am afraid.” It’s a slight distinction but it gives you power in managing what’s happening internally and can make all the difference.

#4 Dare to Stand Alone: Having courage sometimes mean going against the grain and standing alone. Yes, it’s a scary notion indeed but how will you feel at the end of the day if you are only meeting others expectations and/or avoiding disappointing those around you. My advice I give to you (and to myself) is to stay in alignment with what is important to you. Be authentically you and you can never go wrong.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Helen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

I hope the next time you’re presented with an “opportunity” that takes a little bit of courage, you’ll choose to act on the “daring adventure.”

Until next time,