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Courage: Being Scared And Doing It Anyway

Courage: being scared and doing it anyway. This is what I tell my Team when we introduce a new policy or procedure that is a little scary or intimidating. It’s easy to say but very hard to live. I have had many instances where fear has raised its ugly head and I have had to make the choice to live by this motto or turn and run. I would love to say that I have been triumphant every time. However, I have failed many times but I do not stop trying. What is courage? How do you describe it? Is it strictly the domain of people who reach dizzying highs against almost insurmountable obstacles, or for people who lay down their lives for a cause they believe in? Or those who get up every day, doing what they must to make it through or is it something different? I would suggest that is all those things and much, much more!

Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it.

I was raised in a military family, my Dad being a Vietnam Vet with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) so my formative years were in the presence of the ANZAC spirit. On the rare occasion that my Dad would talk about his experiences during the war he boasted of the courage demonstrated by those he served with, never considering himself to be courageous. I don’t think there are many who would disagree that those in battle show courage even in, or maybe especially in, the face of death, all the time desperately desiring to live.  Or as G. K. Chesterton put it;

          “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

Thankfully most of us will not have to display courage on such a scale as this!  But there will be times to display a type of courage that, to the person involved, is just as potentially life changing. Courage in its more common form is persisting when all around you are telling you to stop because in your heart you know its right. It’s the ability to keep getting up when life backhands you. It’s the strength and determination to continue to work at your dreams and hopes when so called ‘common sense’ suggests it’s time to quit.

          “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”  Mary Anne Radmacher.

In business I make choices almost daily that scare me to some degree. Thankfully most of the time they are minor and are fairly easy to ‘conquer’ but every now and then there comes along a doozy. This is the time when I have to show my courage, when it matters most. Usually with my Team watching and asking themselves “Is he full of it when he says being scared and doing it anyway?”. I have a responsibility to my kids to show how to be assertive and stand your ground when the situation warrants it, even though it is so much easier to fold. Or maybe that’s integrity?

Possibly the most important form of courage is making a change not because what you have been doing is wrong; it’s just that it’s wrong now. It wasn’t when you started, in fact it was right in the beginning but the time for change has come. This form of courage is often times not obvious to others and therefore missed by them unless you allow them to know. For me one such example was going to uni. It was right for me but with six months left I came to realise this was not the path I was meant to follow. It was a difficult choice to make, taking me out of my comfort zone and no one would have faulted me for staying on, completing the degree. In fact several people actively attempted to convince me to continue. However, in my heart I knew dropping out was the right thing for me to do, so I did.

When I read about some famous person, that has made it or is considered a winner by the larger part of society, the most interesting fact about them is that they did not allow their mistakes and circumstances to stop them. They refused to lie down and be defeated. In the darkest days of their lives they continued to push on without the certainty they would be successful as history later shows.

We all are faced with problems, obstacles and even people determined to stop us, to restrict us to less than we deserve. Perhaps the single biggest factor standing in our way on the road to success is ourselves. Personal courage could be considered making a mistake and deciding to do whatever we must, making it right. Making whatever sacrifice necessary to correct it. Maybe courage is simply being brutally honest with yourself, about the mistakes you’ve made, that you must confront and own them, admit them and make it your mission to resolve them knowing that the only thing you may gain is self respect and a soothed conscience.

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