Whenever I think of courage, one of the first examples that springs to mind is the wisdom of the Star Wars films, specifically that from Jedi sage Obi-Wan Kenobi. Courage and foolishness are sometimes mistaken for each other, and the exact quote that Obi-Wan uses that illustrates this point for me is, “ Who’s the more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?” when talking with Han Solo. They have infiltrated the Death Star and Obi-Wan has revealed his plan to deactivate the tractor beam so that the Millinium Falcon may escape.
What can appear foolish to others is “merely” courageous from our perspective, because only we have a full understanding of our capabilities. When we take the time to assess a situation, measure outcomes against our abilities and take action, then we are acting from courage.
“Fear and courage are brothers.” – Proverb
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. …You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I put these two quotes alongside each other because one begets the other. In order to be courageous (ie. overcome fear), one must first identify that which causes him or her to feel fear in the first place. They are opposite sides of the same coin and are thus related.
Acting upon or in spite of our fears inoculates us to that particular fear’s affects forever, which is why the discernment stage must be thorough in order to be most effective. Think of it as a “vaccine” against that particular fear. This one took me a bit to learn and quite frankly, I’m still refining it. Once I learn a particular lesson really well, then life just dishes up another one that I get to recognize, hone and conquer. It’s rather like the cans of soda at the cooler in the Quick-E-Mart: one just falls into place to replace the vacuum created by the absence of the one prior.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C.S. Lewis
This is the point at which you become aware of the opportunity of having a choice. When you are brought to a testing point, you know that there is an action presented to you that aligns with your higher self – the one which will help you evolve or the choice of omission (The Geddy Lee – ‘choosing not to decide’ option). In simply choosing to make the best choice, you are exercising your courage muscle.
Each virtue has its own distillation point, even if distillation points vary from person to person.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon
This is the driver that spurs us into action. It’s uniquely personal; therefore, the value of taking action is specific to the individual making the choice to do so. There was a question posed to the folks who participate during a recent #LeadershipChat (held at 8 PM EST Tuesday nights on twitter) about leadership, courage and what drives the decision to act.
My driver, when I’m up against fear, is thinking of those who will benefit from my willingness to be courageous. It’s more important for me to take a risk than it is for me to remain silent. If I stay silent, then I know for sure that I won’t be able to help someone else. It may be that my courage that provides the safe place for someone else to find his or her voice. And that’s more important to me than fear.
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
This is the hardest one to reconcile for most people. “Doing” and “Achieving” is hardwired in the the collective psyche so deeply that any other sort of progress sometimes is seen as not quite good enough (especially if it’s not apparently outwardly manifested). I talked in a previous blog post about potential versus kinetic energy, and yes, kinetic is ultimately what brings about physical change. However, we are blind to the effect our lives have on others simply through our “being.”
By way of analogy, compared to a piece of art, the viewer brings to the piece his/her own issues and lens; therefore, (s)he also takes away his/her own interpretations (which may differ from the intent of the artist). In the same way, there are those who witness our lives and attach meaning, value and inspiration from our actions. For someone enduring chemotherapy, (s)he may feel useless and frail (especially when they consider their previous, vigorous selves). However, he or she may, simply by living, encourage and inspire their friends, caretakers and doctors.
Our charge then, is to be aware, true to ourselves and our choices and to live with courage. When was a time you faced your fear? Who is someone you consider to be courageous?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1gor @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” us on facebook.