After hearing Chief Tecumseh’s poem in Act of Valor, I was inspired to write this. In the movie, I literally had chills as they read his poem.
It starts out with, “live your life so that fear of death can never enter your heart.” What a powerful opening!
As I googled the poem, I found myself on a journey to discover what was courage and to self reflect on how much of it I had.
It is defined as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.
Often times, when we think of courage, we think of bravery in combat. Or maybe a firefighter or police officer in the line of duty. The level of courage they have is unfathomable for most of us.
While many of us will never experience that, we still must act with courage in our own lives.
I believe some people are born with it. For others, they must develop it by challenging their fears and learning to act in the face of the them.
Fear can be crippling. Unchecked, it is paralyzing. It can envelope a person and prevent them from taking action.
Fear can be a productive human emotion. If our ancestors didn’t have fear, they would have seen a sabre tooth tiger, not been afraid, not ran or armed themselves and been eaten. Fortunately for us, they had fear and survived!
Fear can be irrational or a product of our imagination.
For many people, you can look at their actions, or lack thereof, to discover what their fears are.
- Are you sabotaging the relationships in your life? You could have the fear of not being loved.
- Are you avoiding following up on that prospect you met with? You could be afraid of failure.
- Are you avoiding walking across the room to talk to the woman of your dreams? You could be afraid of rejection.
If you don’t learn how to manage your fear, it will control you. It will define you. It will prevent you from reaching the success and happiness you want.
By now, you should be asking how do I act with courage and how do I face my fears?
My old business coach used to say, “feel the fear, execute anyways!’
What I like about that quote is it acknowledges the emotion but leads you to act anyways. That leads us to the first step.
- Acknowledge the fear- it’s ok to feel fear. It’s not ok to let it control you or prevent you from taking action.
- Test the fear- is it real or imagined? For many, an overactive imagination creates problems and situations that aren’t realistic. Start small. Don’t push so hard that you set yourself up for failure. As David Deida says, lean into it.
- Focus on the positive or what you stand to gain- Focusing on the negative will disempower you. Focusing on the positive will empower you. It will show you the reward you may gain for taking the risk. Would you risk asking out 10 women, knowing 9 would say no if the 10th would be the woman of your dreams?
- Take Action- Fear is the creation of over thinking. Thinking kills action. Action kills thinking. There are times to think and times to act. Learn and know the difference.
As you raise your threshold for facing your fears, difficulty or pain, you will develop courage.
There are many forms of courage:
- owning up to your mistakes
- running that last mile on the treadmill
- standing up to someone who is taking advantage of others
- starting a business you’ve always dreamed of
- asking out that person you are attracted to
- going to the gym when you know you are overweight or obese
- going to the party when you don’t know many people
- giving a close friend what they need to hear versus what they want to hear
What are you going to do today to lean into your fears?