To get moving where we are supposed to go requires putting one foot down on the ground, then the other and repeat. How often do we just get stuck where we are, not having the courage to take those next steps in fulfilling our dreams and meeting our goals? This week, we witnessed a life well-lived come to an end. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who embodied courage throughout his life, is an example of this. He’s one politician both sides of the aisle admired, a nearly impossible feat.
Being courageous can mean many things. For Senator McCain, it meant rising to the occasion, when faced with insurmountable odds, and risking his life defending the principles of the country. He was opinionated and fought to move his agenda and his dreams along. The same courage applies to our everyday lives. We can see examples of courage, around us daily. I was in Manhattan on a Sunday and saw a young cop coming to the aid of a man sprawled out on the sidewalk, beat up and bloodied, passerby’s unmoved, continued to walk by. This officer knelt and came to his aid and provided much-needed human touch while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Some may say that’s his job. I think the extra comfort he provided was not written into any contract he signed. It’s courage.
It takes courage to get involved and it takes courage for some of us to just leave the house. What courageous act do you want to accomplish today, this week or this year? Is it helping someone or is it something you want to tackle or achieve? Sometimes just getting out of bed taking those first steps to get involved in our day, takes a mountain of courage.
Several years ago, I made a promise that I would volunteer more. I don’t see this as courageous but it is out of my comfort zone. I have since come to really enjoy my work with these organizations. I have learned to be a good listener and to provide feedback and my opinion, when asked. This is something new for me as I am used to being the captain of the row-boat, not an oarsman. I am learning to be humble and I do believe it takes courage to recognize the ego in all of us that can dictate our daily lives. From time to time it’s good to put the ego aside and just exist.
Coming back to courage. Where courage exists, fear cannot. It’s really that simple. Fear holds us back from being courageous and living that well-lived life we dream of. When was the last time you wrote down or told someone about a dream you wanted to achieve? Mine is finishing my first novel. Yup, I just wrote it down and shared it with you. It really isn’t that hard. I put my ego aside and my fear of failure and just went for it. I have had a dream of writing this story for decades. I think it’s about time I do it. I started last spring and am over the halfway mark of the first draft. I have shared the outline with some friends and my husband. I was pleasantly surprised by the feedback. They really liked it! The point is we hold ourselves back, no one else does and we need to stop listening to our internal critic.
It takes courage to push through. I have found the following 8 steps have helped me get out of my comfort zone and work towards being more courageous as I approach my life’s goals:
- Being vulnerable. We all are fearful of how others see us. Accept your vulnerability and move forward.
- Address what we are afraid of. Sometimes we give it more power by not admitting there is something holding us back. What is it? Get help, to get past it.
- Positive thinking. I am an optimistic person, but I also realize that I don’t want to be too optimistic if it is covering up something that needs to be addressed. I want to be realistic in my goals and the hurdles I face.
- Stress. When I started the process, I gave myself goals I could achieve and if I didn’t, well, I readjusted the schedule. Achieving my dreams are not supposed to stress me out. I also don’t want to give into laziness. Balance is the operative word here.
- Be Courageous. Next time someone needs help. Be that person who can call for help or provide assurance to someone in need. Intervene in your own life to clear out what is holding you back from moving forward. Take the next steps to get help for someone or ourselves.
- Uncertainty and Risk. Life is both of those. Recognize this and gather the faith necessary to face each day without dwelling too much on what can happen. This will only fuel the fear, our biggest roadblock to experiencing our future selves.
- Learn new things. It can be terrifying to put ourselves out there to meet new people and to expose ourselves to new things. There is a starting point to everything. We only acquire new skills, by doing new things.
- Challenges. When we accept that confronting our dreams and fears will be a challenge we prepare ourselves for the road ahead. I know there will be many bumps in the road as I put this manuscript together, rather than focus on that. I will confront them when it happens. Worry is just a down payment on something that hasn’t happened yet.
Here’s a great quote that helps me to get moving: “Stop trying to skip the struggle. That’s where character is built. Embrace it. Learn from it. Grow from it.”