Today, I was looking back in my archives and came across this article I wrote in 2009 about courage.
I have just returned from a fabulous couple of weeks exploring the historic ruins of Greece. A last-minute change enabled me to fit in a one day tour of the three closest outer islands which was superb – it’s no surprise that so many people travel to the Greek Islands for their holidays. I liked Greek food before I went BUT I love it now. Seriously the food is to die for … but more on that another time.
While I was basking in the glorious ancient sites and the hot weather, a good friend of mine resigned from a very senior role. It wasn’t just a role he was leaving, it was a career spanning over 25 years of his lifetime.
We caught up by phone and I soon discovered his immense joy at having made this decision. He said that he felt a tremendous weight had been lifted off his shoulders and he was now going to take some time out to decide what he really wanted to do next.
I was thrilled for him as I’d also been in situation a few years earlier and I totally understood where he was at. He had made a choice that empowered who he is, that honoured his values and I knew the next chapter of his life was going to be very exciting. It was an act of courage to make this decision and the outcome totally freeing.
Stress comes from being out of alignment with what we believe or value. When we are stressed, we often choose to do nothing. Sometimes we are in denial – it’s easy to bury our head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. Other times we don’t know what to do and even if we did, we haven’t got the courage or confidence to take action so we wait. Other times we wait and until it becomes ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’ which catalyzes us into action.
Sometimes we fear what others may say or think. Sometimes we hope someone else will fix our problems for us so we don’t have to be responsible for them. And sometimes we believe that we don’t deserve to have a happy life or that it’s OK to have what we want. These are all classic fear patterns that can be smashed with ‘20 seconds of insane courage or 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery.’
There are many reasons why we choose to stay in situations that are unfulfilling be it a job, a relationship, a business, or a partnership to name a few. It takes courage to make a change, it takes courage to speak up and say what needs to be said and it takes courage to take actions that empower who you are.
Courage in my opinion is vital to great leadership because there are times when we must stand alone and we can only do that when we believe in ourselves, we understand our values, what’s important to us and we bring these values to life by acting on them. We are all leaders in our own life and before we can lead anyone, we need to be able to lead ourselves.
One of the great sayings etched into the temples of Greece comes from the sun God Apollo who said “Know Thyself” and I believe that is one of the secrets to life. To ‘know thyself’ is a deep and profound inner journey. It’s one of evolution and revolution. It takes great courage to examine what you believe, what motivates you, what drives you, what you think of yourself and equally what you fear.
To continue to peel back the layers into deeper levels of self-awareness and self-knowledge to see the truth of who you are and to stand in and speak your truth takes courage. By choosing to embrace fear and challenge yourself, you choose to grow. As you understand more of yourself, you will begin to understand and begin to see what you are truly capable of.
It was the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle who lived from 384-322 BC that said:
“Courage is largely concerned with the feelings of confidence and fear – highlighted best in the fear of death in battle. Courage is between these two vices. Courage is also explicitly connected with pain and pleasure in the sense that it is more painful to face that which frightens us and more pleasurable to flee.”
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word is ‘cor’ which is Latin for heart and it meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Courage is wholeheartedness – putting your whole heart into everything you think, say, and do.
It makes sense then with this famous quote that says “the greatest test of courage is to bear defeat without losing heart. “
Have you ever considered that ‘without fear, there cannot be courage?’
Steve Jobs knew this when he said “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
And Oprah Winfrey added “You’ve got to follow your passion … figure out what it is you love – who you really are. And have the courage to do that. I believe the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your dreams.”
Re-reading what I once wrote made me feel inspired to share this again. Timeless wisdom, relevant today.
Let your heart be your guide – allow your courage to carve your own path in this ever- changing journey of life.
Great Spirit NZ Ltd – ‘it’s a way of being’
Jo’s passionate about helping people unleash their potential, find their purpose and play a bigger game. She provides Coaching, Mentoring and Facilitation Services for people who feel called to make a postive difference in this ever-changing world.
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