What is Courage? What does it mean and what does it take to have courage? I’ve heard it said, “Courage is a lie that old men tell to young men when they send them off to die.” A clever maxim, yet I believe there is more to courage than that. One of my favorite John Wayne quotes is:
“Courage is being scared to death…but saddling up anyways.”
If you believe what the late-great Duke said, Fear is an active ingredient in courage. How can this be? Isn’t courage the absence of fear? Aren’t the bravest of the brave those without fear? The correct answer here is…no.
Courage is not about feeling no fear at all—a double negative, yet true nonetheless. You cannot have courage without fear. Courage and bravery mean having fear while maintaining the ability to move forward in spite of your obstacles, real or imagined, and get the job done. If you have no fear, then it doesn’t take any special fortitude. Nothing out of the ordinary in the way of grit or guts to keep you on track for deeds of daring do. You’re just doing your job—no problemo. It is when you have fear and then combine it with the need to keep moving forward anyways—this is when courage comes into play.
If you are afraid of something—attempting a new venture, working through an issue, doing something in a new and “terrifying” way—relax, be of good cheer. Just as your failures work together as steppingstones guiding you up through the mire on the way to success, fear combines with your desire and breeds the courage necessary to do whatever it takes to succeed in your endeavors. Eventually, through a little effort and some systematic desensitization (repeatedly exposing yourself to those things that make you weak in the knees to the point where those very same scary vexations become commonplace), you will level up enough that these roadblocks in your life seemingly shrink to the size of speed bumps and eventually pebbles on the path. In truth, it is not your problems that shrivel until they disappear, it is you growing into the type of person it takes for these things to be no big deal that causes them to look this way.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
You can’t have courage unless you are afraid. Fear is an igniter, providing the necessary agitation and giving you the impetus to break out from the safe haven that is your complacency. You can also use it like radar, discovering those things that scare you most and allowing your fear to guide you in the direction you need to go to best level up your life. Like your very own safari guide, you can use your fear to point you through the wild and untamed wilderness of those things you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts to try. The best film actors, those who go on to become Academy Award winners, often choose roles that scare them most. Looking to that which they fear—what challenges them personally and their ability as artists—to help invoke something yet undiscovered and bring it to light, they create art that amazes their audiences and delights their peers.
Real life, real living begins beyond your Comfort Zone.
Do not let your fear hold you back. You have to believe it is possible to succeed in the things you dream about, or you will never catch these dreams. You will never capture those things that meant so much to you, carrying you through your childhood into your young adulthood and beyond. What happened after that? Did you lose sight of your dreams when you became an adult, selling out to concentrate on “more important” things…like maintaining a good job, paying bills, and attending the needs of people who depend on you?
Some get sick. There are cases of people with terminal cancer—not given very long to live, they quit the job they hate, thinking I have only so much life left…. I’m going to pursue those things I’ve always wanted to do…. I’ll write that book, devote time to my children, take up “skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing….” Then, miraculously and with no other apparent explanation, the cancer goes into remission. As if the only reason they got sick was so Life could thump them on the head and say, “Slow down. Stop doing those things that are draining you, sucking your time away. Begin pursuing the stuff most important to you. That which you’ve been longing to do all your life anyway.” Some people get the message and take advantage of the precious gift being offered them at such a dire time. This again involves courage, and in the face of extremely devastating circumstances no less.
No matter what motivates you—your circumstances, your reasons—you have to believe in yourself first. You need to believe you can be, do, have whatever it is you want in spite of the fear and doubt you are feeling. In spite of all your friends saying, “Naaaw, you don’t wanna do that—it’s not smart, safe and secure!” In spite of all you hear from the naysayers, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “Yes, this is possible…I believe in myself…this is my life and I’m going to spend it doing what I love!”
And then…“Just Do It!”
Not quite there yet? Not sure where to begin? Still having those fears and doubts about who you are and your ability to accomplish such grandiose enterprises? Whatever it takes to get you on the right path to where you want to go, begin doing that. If it takes affirmations…do them. If it takes visualizations…do them. All that stuff you see working in other people’s success-freaky lives…do them! Why? Because if they work for others, they will work for you. I have done these things and I know they do. Why do they work? Divine intervention? Law-of-Attraction woo-woo magic? The placebo effect?
Sure. Why not? Who cares?
As long as it works and you get to create an awesome life for yourself, not hurting anyone along the way, does it really matter how you get there? All quip-tastic kidding aside, these techniques, and others like them, succeed in part because they bring what you are trying to do into focus, causing you to sit up and take notice when they appear. Thus, you will see the opportunities. You may be so jazzed about the event you proclaim, “Oh look, here’s an opportunity for that special something I’ve been intent on doing!” This is far better than the usual, “Another opportunity? I’ll get to it later/tomorrow/next time,” you’ve been mumbling under your breath. Now that this is something you are focusing on, you have no excuse—not even to yourself. Now that you are visualizing things happening, saying your affirmations, and using a variety of other manifesting-Awesome techniques, you have more impetus to declare “Hold on a tic…. This opportunity is for something I say is important to me. This go around I will make time, focus, and persevere until I cross the finish line.”
Now, don’t get cocky—you are going to be afraid.
Venturing out from your refuge of all the stuff you already know and have done in life, you will have fear. Terror, dread, trepidation—you know, the very same nervous apprehension that brings you up short every time you even think to sally forth beyond the relative safety of your ordinary, routine life. Why? Because whenever you try something new, you move forward into a place of uncertainty—that unchartered territory out beyond your comfort zone. And, the unknown can be a very scary place.
Don’t worry—it’s all part of the process. Even the fear.
If you are forever striving to level up your life and consistently pushing beyond your own perceived limits, fear (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) will most likely be a constant companion. A “Spidey-sense” guide that lets you know you are on the path to greater success. When you are afraid, then and only then does courage come into play.
You must have courage to stand up to your fright, to stand up to you. It takes no small amount of pluck to look yourself in the mirror day after day and say, “No, I believe in this. I believe in me.” You need a high dose of backbone-bravery to go head-to-head with yourself and confront those pesky, convenient doubts, saying, “In spite of what I see going on, in spite of my circumstance, I am moving forward with this. I am going to believe I can do this, put in my time, and do whatever it takes to succeed. It is up to me—I am responsible for my own happiness. Co-creating my dreams with (God/the Universe/insert preference here) and my own Divine Spark, I will have the best life…even beyond what I think I know is possible.”
Yes, you will. This and much, much more….
And, it all begins with your courage in the face of your fear.
Based on the vlog: “Captains Courageous” – MMV #7.