“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.” — Nelson Mandela
What is courageous action?
Courage is such an important value and trait for me – in my work, in my life, what I really notice and admire in people.
But what does being courageous really mean? Let’s face it, the answer is different depending on who you are, your environment and what risks you face on a day-to-day basis.
Of course there’s physical bravery – often times, when people put themselves in harms way to help others and themselves. I’d like to think I’d step up in those situations, but even the thought of it has my heart racing!
What I’m thinking about, and frequently observing in people, is courage in the actions we take and in our everyday behaviours. Taking the more challenging path because it’s the right thing to do, even though it scares us to do so.
- Choosing the difficult conversation to serve someone well for the future
- Calling out the bullying behaviour rather than standing by without action
- Challenging the boss’ decision because you see a risk not thought through
- Even getting your child away from hours of gaming when you know it will cause upset
There are examples of courageous leadership, parenting and friendship every single day – all around you, and more than likely coming from you. It’s great to acknowledge it.
Is it stressful?
By very definition, it more than likely is!
“the ability to do something that frightens one”
We know when we’re taking courageous action, because it’s often not the easy path. It’s the things that have taken up brain space for a little too long, that you might have chatted through with someone, that gets your heart racing or palms a little sweaty when you think about it.
So yes, this is a stress response. Our brain believes we are in danger and physiology kicks in.
But isn’t this what makes us beautifully human? The ability to acknowledge the fear, feel the stress response to leave it well alone, but then make the conscious choice to carry on anyway. Our moral compass guiding the way.
Be courageous AND stay well
The key is not to let these situations eat away at you. Chat it through if you need to, call on your support, maybe even give yourself a night to sleep on it.
But ultimately trust your intuition, breathe into it and take action.
Courageous action will take you in the right direction and you’ll be proud.
Taking the action that speaks to your authentic self will be less stressful than living with a situation that compromises it.
What act of courage do you want to call out and celebrate today?