What’s your definition of courage and why is it vital to claim it for yourself? Are you curious about why only 11% of over 750 women researched perceived themselves as courageous? Are you in this group?
What allows only a small percentage of women to actively claim their courage? Perhaps you believe courage is only synonymous with being a hero or perhaps you’re curious about how to apply courage to make better decisions, enhance leading teams or adjust to a merger with less stress. Would your life change if you discovered that some of your everyday behaviors demonstrate profound courage?
How can you make courage your daily legacy? Below are three female LinkedIn perspectives:
— Dr. Beverly Helms, “How I Make Courage My Daily Legacy”
I had difficulty putting into words how I make courage my daily legacy. Courage is something that was instilled in me at a young age by my mother and even though I am a strong introvert, the use of courage, on a daily basis, has become something at which I think I am unconsciously competent. It is such a part of my repertoire that I don’t really think about it. I guess it has become second nature and is so embedded in my being that when asked to describe the process of making it my daily legacy, I was challenged.
Below are a few of the things I believe have contributed to my daily courage.
- I recognize that you can’t please all the people all the time and in fact, you can’t please half the people half the time, so I don’t try. That doesn’t mean I don’t care what they think or that I am insensitive. I simply don’t use others as the measure for my being.
- In spite of my perfectionistic personality, I finally have come to accept there are no perfect people and I am kinder and more accepting of myself than ever before.
- I try not to break my toothpick on a marshmallow. Making a mountain out of a molehill was once a problem for me until I realized a few hours and certainly a few days took care of most problems.
- I believe in being candid, and saying what I think even though I recognize a greater need to speak the truth more lovingly. At the same time, I preface most opinions by asking the person if they really want to know what I think about something or if they prefer that I tell them what I think they want to hear. Saves a lot of frustration for all.
- Because I want to be a pioneer of the future rather than a prisoner of the past as Chopra suggested, I let what happened yesterday stay there. That is not to say I don’t use learnings from the past to make me better, but I don’t dwell on my mistakes. I try to make peace with my past, and forgive myself, which has been and still is, more difficult for me than it should be.
- I take risks, which for a strong introvert, can be very intimidating. I always ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if I fail. And in the last several years, I have done things I never imagined possible, simply because I tried something new or different.
- I have learned to say “no” more often so that I can better enjoy the things I have said “yes” to.
- I try to live each day intentionally, not responding or reacting as much as making conscious choices. I avoid pessimistic people, spend time serving as a telephone encourager myself, and recognize that the only investment that lasts is in others.
– Donna Cameron, “How I Make Courage My Daily Legacy”
I suppose I am a courageous person, but I really don’t think about it a lot. I assume that—like most people—there are areas of my life where I am courageous and areas where I am not. I don’t like spiders and snakes, and I have a fear of heights. As a basically contented introvert, I’m not particularly courageous in social situations, however professionally I exercise courage in a lot of different ways. My “courage legacy” is where I have helped, or served, or created as a result of not allowing fear or vulnerability to hold me back. This is how my courage manifests:
- I’m guided by my own counsel – This doesn’t mean that I haven’t had wonderful teachers and mentors who have helped and guided me along the way—I have and I’m eternally grateful to them. But I don’t worry about how I may be judged by others and I don’t take actions based on whether others will or won’t approve. Many years ago, I heard someone say, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” This is very freeing, and extends to various aspects of my life: how I dress, how I speak, what I choose to care about, and how I treat others. My choices are based on my inner convictions, not on what I think someone wants or expects me to choose.
- I’m willing to take risks – Here, I’m not talking about bungee-jumping, rodeo-riding, or climbing Mt. Everest, but venturing outside of what I know to try something new, to take on an additional responsibility, or develop a new proficiency. The risks I take are more along the lines of public speaking, writing, standing up for what I believe, and accepting new professional challenges. I expect occasionally to fail—we learn through failure—but I also expect ultimately to be successful, and generally that is the outcome. When faced with a challenge or something outside their comfort zone, people often bolster their courage by asking, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I may ask that question, too, but I always follow it with “What’s the best that could happen?” and that’s where I focus my attention and my energy.
- I confront reality – Or at least I try. Throughout my career, there have been hard truths and I learned fairly early on that they generally don’t go away if I ignore them; in fact, sometimes they just get bigger. So I’ve gotten pretty good at facing them and surfacing them as soon as the time is right. Sometimes this has meant telling a client that working together isn’t working, or maybe it’s pointing out something they’d rather not see. Sometimes it’s recognizing that a new employee just isn’t fitting in and isn’t going to, and—for their sake and ours—showing them the door. Confronting reality extends to seeing things about myself that perhaps I’d rather not admit and then taking the action necessary to remedy them.
- I’ve learned how to let go – This one was a long time coming. I don’t need to control everything and while “my way” always sounds best to me, other people have perfectly good ways of doing things and I can trust that they will do the job and do it well. Even if the result isn’t exactly what I envisioned, it’s perfectly satisfactory and my employee or colleague has been empowered. Letting go of trying to control outcomes frees me to focus on what I do best and what serves my company, my employees, and my clients best. Letting go has also allowed me to move forward even when I don’t know what the outcome will be, and to trust that whatever it is, I can handle it.
- I choose kindness – I’m grateful that my first career position allowed me to experience a workplace bully. The president of the large company I worked for was a tyrant who managed through threats and intimidation. I saw how he frightened and humiliated people and what a toxic workplace it created. I also saw that those who worked most closely with him began to adopt his bullying tendencies. I left after a couple of years and vowed never to work in such an environment or to treat people as I had seen them treated. That has meant confronting a few bullies over the years—when clients behaved inappropriately, or when I saw people being treated with disrespect in any setting. I hope, in fact, that kindness has become part of my legacy and one of my defining qualities.
- I engage in self-care – This one took a while to learn, but I finally realized that if I depleted my energy through overwork or lack of sleep, I had little to offer myself or anyone else. When I am tired it’s harder to do anything, including acting courageously. So now I try to pay attention to my energy and the messages my body is sending me. This guides me to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others.
As I said at the outset, I am not always courageous, but I have recognized over the years that when I act courageously—when I venture beyond my comfort zone, stand up for myself, or try something new—my courage grows. Like any ability, it increases with practice, and eventually, under certain circumstances, it becomes almost instinctive.
– Laura Barden, “How I Make Courage My Daily Legacy”
When I was asked to write about how I make courage my daily legacy, my first thought was that I don’t apply my courage on a daily basis. But after deeper reflection I realized that I do demonstrate courage on a daily basis, mostly in the form of mental strength to venture, to persevere and to withstand “perceived” difficulty. For example, withstanding “perceived” difficulty when faced with a new situation I’ve noticed myself doing the following:
1) Recognize that I perceive a situation as being difficult.
2) Give myself a pep talk such as “It is okay not to have all the answers.”
3) Stop judging myself harshly with phrases such as “Its okay not to be perfect.”
4) Think positively.
5) Take a deep breath and breathe.
After following these steps I’ve noticed that the “perceived” difficulty was just that, “perceived.”
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