“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to embrace it.” — Jennifer McClanahan-Flint
Courage is a term often used for great acts of heroism, bravery. The term used for people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. The truth is, courage is within all of us.
Courage does not only refer to acts which change communities and countries but also to the “seemingly small things” we do on a daily basis. The courage to get out of bed and walk to work in a community where gang violence is ripe. The courage to go to school with broken shoes knowing that some people will make fun of you. The courage to go after your dreams, to say no to peer pressure, the courage to change and challenge yourself.
In an article, I recently read on ‘Be a Leader’ they spoke about eight types of courage and how it relates to leadership in particular at the work place. However, I do believe that the eight types of courage explained in the article are essential for anyone who wishes to grow, to expand, as courage is often the first step needed to living a happy, fulfilled life.
1. Courage to be your authentic self
Let’s pause here for a moment, this is quite a bold statement. Often we do not know who we really are, because we are trying so hard to be someone we think we should be. So, to be our authentic self takes courage. The courage to ask the question -“Who am I, Who am I really.”
It is in taking this first step in asking the question that we start to discover our authentic self and once we begin this journey of self-discovery, we will surely know who we are. We will know our values, strengths, what motivates and moves us so passionately that we feel like we can do anything and have the perseverance and resilience to continue irrespective of what may happen.
2. Courage to align yourself with your purpose
Purpose is often a word which scares and intimidates us, it intimidates us because we perceive it as something beyond ourselves. Something which is so great that we feel we will never know it. Many books and articles have been written on the subject purpose.
Simply put, Purpose is a deep sense of knowing who you are and what you want to achieve, and actively pursuing it.
3. Courage to take risks
Taking risks is often seen as something negative. It is negative because of the risk of failure, the risk of something going wrong, the risk of vulnerability, the risk of doing something different. Things do happen at times however at those crucial crossroads in our lives, when we do not take the risk we often miss invaluable opportunities. Then we start having those familiar thoughts of -“I should have, I could have” - which will lead us to the feeling of regret. Taking risks is not easy, however if it feels completely right for you to do then it is the chance you will have to take.
4. Courage to ask for feedback
Feedback is interesting, it is interesting because it is essential for growth to take place. We grow up in a society and world where asking someone to basically criticize you, is seen as taboo, and totally ludicrous. The truth is without asking for feedback you might never know what your blind spots are. You will never know the areas that you need to improve upon, you will also not know which areas you are doing well at. Yes, feedback is not only for negative criticism but also for positive feedback.
Asking the questions is one thing however receiving the feedback is another. I suppose in a lot of ways receiving the feedback can be harder than asking the question. For most people when you feel we are under attack our immediate response is to fight back, to defend.
It is important to be open and receive the feedback for what it is, and to be okay with it, irrespective if we perceive it to be good or bad. This takes courage as it might mean that we will be uncomfortable and vulnerable however when this becomes part of your everyday life, you will immediately see the positive benefits and impact it can have.
I would like to invite you to an exercise, this exercise will require you to be brave to perhaps step out of your norm. I would like you to choose one of the above mentioned four types (it does not matter which one you choose) and I would like you to try it out for the next week.