Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Practicing Courage No Matter What

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. 

- Maya Angelou

What matters at the end of the day is that no matter what, we do the thing.

This is what courage is all about- it's about doing the thing we want/need/crave/desire/_____(you fill in the blank) no matter what state we are in. Even if it means taking the next small step, we do the thing. Courage is built in the small acts strung together, day in and day out.

I know for a fact that if I made how I feel a condition for practicing courage and doing the next thing I know I need to do in my heart, then I wouldn't get anything done.

Last winter I did an intensive workshop over a few month period that explored Brene Brown's work, ideas and developed practices of "Daring Greatly" and there was a whole section devoted to really honing in on the values that matter most. Creating a list of your top values is definitely an activity I suggest doing. What it does is it gets you super clear on how you want to kick butt in this world each day. This is a very powerful guiding force. Our values are the framework that give purpose and meaning to our actions, goals and pursuits.

After doing the workshop, what emerged for me as my top three values was "Love, Courage and Integrity." I know that every day, those are the values I practice. When I was developing my core values list, I knew right away that Courage was gonna be there no matter what. Courage is central to my life philosophy and beliefs and is undeniably married to our ability to grow. It takes courage to love with our whole heart, even when there are no guarantees. And it takes courage to practice integrity and walk the talk. I decided that courage is absolutely essential to my living a wholehearted life and if its the doorway to all other virtues, I would commit to it as a daily practice.

No matter what.

The photo above was taken right before I went skydiving last year. Was I scared? Fuck yeah.
The bottom line was that although fear was present, it wasn't the guiding force. The guiding force was my commitment to courage no matter what. That's what get's me out of bed in the morning.

I've traveled quite a few times in the past few years and I still get nervous before each trip. Every single damn time. The key is really to accept whatever emotion or state we are in when we make a decision, but decide and do the thing anyway. Valuing courage demands that we keep the momentum through consistent practice.

It doesn't need to be a big thing. Courage can often be found in the intricate web of our daily lives in the small acts and leaps of faith we take. There have been many days where I've woken up and although I knew mentally that engaging with the day is how I grow, generate happiness and find the opportunities, I didn't feel like doing anything. This is where we need to act before we are ready. It may feel counter-intuitive but the truth is that making changes requires engagement and action, even if it's the smallest of steps we take. Every time I took "the step" it created momentum. I've never had regrets.

This is why courage is a practice. It asks that we do the thing, practice the small disciplines, take the risks and move.

Take the step. You know what step is next and what you need to do. Trust yourself and do the thing. Then watch your world unfold.

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