This week I continue to be reminded of the importance of courage. We all need more of it to better deal with the chaos, the pandemic, politics, racial issues, protests, quarantine fatigue, unrest, the homelessness, the economy, the climate, our own physical, emotional and mental well being. Having courage can help us. What is it exactly? Courage can be defined as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.
I found valuable insights into courage from 2 very diverse sources: The Wizard of Oz (one of my all time favorite movies) and Dr. Brene Brown!
I remember how finding their courage was an important lesson for both the Lion and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. For the cowardly Lion it was when he met the Wizard and was introduced to Lesson #1: You’re a victim of disorganized thinking!
So much of our fear is a result of our disorganized thinking. We replay negative tapes from our history that keep us in our cowardly state. These old messages keep us from making the big sale, or applying for that new job, or starting our own business, or simply standing up for ourselves and for others. The old messages keep us scared to take the next step. However those that push through and take action, succeed. They do not let their fear stop them. They act in spite of it. Fear is stagnant. Courage is action.
Then when the Lion received a medal to show his courage from the Wizard he also could have asked for what the Tin Man asked for – a heart. For Lesson #2 is that courage is all about the heart.
The root of the word courage is “cor” which is the Latin word for heart. In its original form the word meant to “speak one’s mind while telling all one’s heart.”
Courage is an inside job. The medal the lion had wrapped around his neck is an outside symbol. It will really do nothing to help him develop the inner strength he needs to be more brave. Courage requires us to look deep within our soul, to be uncomfortable, and to make a heart decision.
We can put up all kinds of signs and symbols in our offices or homes (or as a backdrop to our Zoom video conferences) that remind us to be more courageous. Ultimately though, it comes down to our core, our heart, and a willingness to face our fears.
I personally really value having positive affirmations and reminders as visual cues that feed my subconscious all the time. However I also know that to be courageous is an inside job.
When Dorothy encounters Glenda, the good witch, towards the end of the movie, she asks for help to get back home. She was exhausted from her journey. This cry for help leads us to Lesson #3. Glenda proclaims, “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas!. You just needed to learn from the experiences you have had and believe in yourself!” The Scarecrow was angry that Glenda waited so long before telling her this truth. However Glenda responded that Dorothy would not have believed her. She had to learn for herself.
And so it is with courage. We’ll never know how strong and courageous we can be, or already are, without learning it for ourselves. Courage and believing in ourselves requires us to rearrange our disorganized thinking. They require us to examine our core and our heart and not look for something from the outside to change us. Courage requires us to act.
Others can encourage us but no one can help us move from fear to courage. We must do that ourselves. That is a heart decision.
According to Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brene Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work, and is a visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy, and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”
Dr. Brown has spent the past 2 decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, and is the author of 5 #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and her latest book, Dare to Lead, which is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership.
Brene hosts the Unlocking Us podcast, and her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top 5 most viewed TED talks in the world with over 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix, The Call to Courage which debuted in April 2019.
I thank both the Wizard of Oz and Dr. Brene Brown for their insights and lessons on courage. They both have inspired and strengthened my spirit to recommit on being courageous.
What courageous heart decisions will you make today?
With Light and Love and Courage,