A Unique Guide to Help Women Reclaim the Lost Virtue of Courage
The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman
“Sandra Ford Walston speaks to the heart of the matter when she points to courage as the linchpin of women’s true liberation. She illumines the path for us all.”
—Marianne Williamson, Author of A WOMAN’S WORTH
Some women seem to have an endless supply of courage. No matter what obstacles life throws in their paths, these women climb over them and keep on walking, heads held high. Are they just a special breed of female or can any woman cultivate her own reservoir of inner courage and wield it with just as much confidence and skill?
As Walston explains, the word courage comes from the French word corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” Courage, says author and lecturer Sandra Ford Walston, is the “forgotten virtue” of women, and the time has come to rediscover the heart and spirit’s inherent strength. In her first book, COURAGE: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman, Walston discusses why courage has been considered an unladylike characteristic for centuries, how women express their courage differently from men, and what three simple steps women can follow to find the courage that is their birthright.
“All women have had debilitating experiences that compel self-examination and reinvention,” Walston writes in her book’s introduction. “Many emotional, physical, and psychological crises are common to women cross-culturally: fear, loss, illness, abuse, betrayal, and low self-esteem. Yet the courage to face and conquer these obstacles is available to every woman.”
Walston speaks with a full heart about her own experiences cultivating courage. She survived a near-fatal bout with chicken pox as a child, and gave up for adoption a son that she bore out of wedlock. These two seminal events, she writes, “reawakened my awareness of courage as a force that I needed to survive.” Walston also interviewed hundreds of other women about their own courageous actions and beliefs, and their stories bring to COURAGE added depth and relevance.
In order to find one’s courage, Walston writes, one must first understand where it’s been hiding for all these centuries. There was a time when societies held women in high regard and even thought of their deities as female, but that crumbled with the coming of religions with only one god, usually portrayed as male. As the patriarchy gained power, the matriarchy lost it, transforming women into the helpmates of men. Today, this subjugation is starting to fade in some societies, Walston writes, and it is becoming more acceptable for women to be strong characters in their own right.
But even this is not enough to make women open their eyes to the courage within them, she continues. The definition of courage used today is too often seen as strictly masculine and only to be used when astonishing physical feats are performed. “But in earlier times, courage meant mental or moral strength to venture, to persevere, and to withstand danger, fear, or difficulty,” Walston explains. “If this broader definition of courage prevailed, women would be viewed much differently today … If every woman identified the acts she performs every day as courageous, she would be able to use that same courage to transform her life and accomplish her heart’s desire.”
To acknowledge one’s own courage is not as difficult as one might think, Walston writes. There are three steps to getting there. The first is self-discovery. “Achieving self-awareness is difficult,” she writes. “Such a quest forces us to peel back the protective layers of emotion that have built up over the years.” In this section of the book, Walston asks the reader to make a list of the stepping stones in her life and identify what problems are bothering her right now. Then the reader asks herself a series of questions to get to the heart of why she is having these problems. By looking at one’s past and questioning the present, patterns emerge, as do the destructive habits that one has created to avoid these problems. But once the problem areas have been identified, the reader can change her habits for the better.
The second step in growing courage is to change one’s perception of what is courageous and then find out what they can do to make their new outlook a reality. By using the “Source Wheel” (page 86), women can identify which “Behaviors of Courage” they exhibit. For each of the twelve behaviors described on the Source Wheel, Walston provides an inspiring case study of how a real woman used that behavior to change her life for the better, using her inner courage to sustain her. After learning about these types of courage, women can take the final of the three steps: using the techniques in these case studies as guidance in changing their own lives.
Finally, Walston writes, one must remember their reserve of courage every day and work to incorporate it into the lives of the women, girls, and men who love them. “On her journey to reclaim heart and spirit, every woman’s courage can lie coiled in bud and then miraculously uncoil as courage expands within her, bringing her into gorgeous blossom,” Walston writes. In COURAGE, Walston combines her experience, the inspirational stories of others courageous women, historical perspective and concrete advice to provide the necessary nutrients that every woman with the will to grow needs to bloom.
About the Author
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™ is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, corporate trainer and courage coach, specializing in understanding courage-centered leadership, women’s courage leadership issues, courage behaviors and individual personalities that focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition. Sandra is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman. Her second book is currently agent represented. Sandra writes for Chief Learning Officer and Strategic Finance magazines, and she posts a monthly Courage Blog.
Sandra provides skill-based programs for public and private businesses, including Caterpillar, Inc., Auburn University, Procter & Gamble, Wyoming Department of Health Public Nurses, Farmers Insurance, Wide Open West and Hitachi Consulting. Ms. Walston is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and is certified as an Enneagram teacher, and she enjoys applying insights from both systems to her work. With over eleven years of experience with finance professionals, she instructs for the University of Denver Graduate Tax Program Continuing Professional Education courses and she formerly taught for the Colorado Society of CPAs. Currently she is a candidate for an Honorary Doctorate Degree.