Did you know that courage is a “muscle”? Well, technically not, but play along with the metaphor.
It’s like a muscle because the more you use it, the stronger you get! “Courage” is a word that has always fascinated me. Even thinking the word I feel stronger. It takes courage to continue to move forward in the face of hardship, discomfort, long-odds, failures and discouragement.
Yet, we see courageous acts all around us everyday. I’ve found numerous descriptions of where the word “courage” originated. Most agree that the Latin root of the word is “cor”— which translates to “for heart.” Then the descriptions take many different paths.
One of my favorites is: “Courage comes from a French translation meaning ‘rage of the heart.’ It originated with horses that had to jump over something. In order to do so successfully, they have to send their heart over the fence first and then the body follows,” from my friend and executive coach, Ann Masur Singer.
Another favorite: “Courage originally meant, ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart,’ from Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself when you courageously push your potential.
Here are a few ways to practice courage:
Be imaginative. Choose outside your box. If you feel a little tweak or twinge, then you are thinking outside your box. Be brave. Move outside your comfort zone – even if just a smidge…. Anaïs Nin was right when she wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Be adventurous. Raise the bar on what you think you can do. Too often our thoughts of “Oh, I could never do that…” limit what we really can do.
Be impeccable. Commit to being faultless with your words and deeds. Keep your promises to yourself. Keep your commitments to others.
Be focused. Bright shiny objects are all around us. Cultivate an environment that allows you to stay focused on one thing at a time. Use your breath to have a relaxed presence and focus on each moment.
Be actively aware. Choose to stay in the moment. Know what you want and need. Pay close attention to your reality and the reality of others – they are not the same thing.