As a business owner and the mom of two kids, one with severe special needs, I love the word courage. It means I have to make the decision every day to do something that I know will be difficult, and may even be dangerous. And I need all of the mental and moral strength I can muster to persevere. After hospitalizing my son for a second time, I treated myself to a massage.
The massage therapist pointed out a lump behind my right ear. That lump turned out to be a tumor in my salivary gland. I ended up undergoing six hours of surgery. It turned out the tumor was much larger than my doctors thought, and the surgery had left the right side of my face completely paralyzed. No one was sure for how long or if it might not be permanent. I couldn’t smile, blink, or close my right eye, and I had a speech impediment.
This would not be a good thing for anyone; for me as a professional speaker, I saw my career nosedive. To make matters worse, I had to have a second surgery to repair a scratch on my cornea, because I could not close my eye, before I could have radiation therapy to make sure the tumor didn’t come back!
Half my face was smiling and the other half was mad.
I had to wear an eye patch. I looked like a pirate. Being courageous isn’t hard when you’re happy and everything is hunky dory. It is when you’re exhausted, emotional, angry, and life is far away from what you had planned that finding your courage gets hard. Courage is how we choose to act during these times.
Here are three lessons I’ve learned to help you choose to think and act courageously:
#1 – Lean into Fear
The main difference between those who courageously act and those who stay stuck amounts to how we view fear. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is being afraid and working through the discomfort. Courage means you allow challenge and adversity to be a catalyst to help you grow strong enough to face whatever life throws at you.
#2 – Courage is Unique to Each of Us
Courage is highly individual to each person. So is suffering. Don’t compare your pain and fear to the experiences of others. What is scary to one person may be exhilarating to the next. We see things differently, and we experience different types of courage. Neither is better or worse than any other. I know people who are fearless when it comes to travel or sports, but they refuse to fall in love because they may get hurt. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to courage.
#3 – There are Many Different Ways to Practice Courage
To care for a disabled family member requires you to be courageous to face an unending series of daily challenges. To be a successful business owner you must be bold and have courage to take calculated risks. To be a loving friend, parent or spouse you must be courageous to forgive.
So as you go through your day, think about the following:
- What types of courage come easily for you?
- Which ones are more difficult?
- What blocks you from behaving courageously in the circumstances you face?