When the word courage comes to my mind, it often brings images of tremendous feats of human moments. Your top five are spinning through your mind right now. That was a pretty easy word association exercise. Now let's flip that and look in the mirror. Do you see yourself as a courageous person? Right now the picture in my head is the one of Atreyu looking into the mirror to show his true self. It was scary for him and it is scary for me and I am sure for many of you who are reading this.
This post springs from some tremendous inspiration that has come from some pretty courageous people. People close to me and people in my social network have had the courage to come out and publicly disclose their challenges with anxiety, depression, fear, and many many other not so pleasant emotions. It was time for me to look in the mirror. My therapist pegged me as that guy who could not be satisfied with a days work unless there were positive and tangible results. It was very confusing to me because I thought this was the normal way…'the only way' to look at life, work, family etc. Success was measured purely on the outcome, benefits, and deliverables that any given day would produce. So the question was posed to me: What if nothing succeeds that day? What if despite your best efforts your vision does not transpire? Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. A lack of success triggered anxiety. A lack of positive progress triggered depression. A lack of anything going right for any given period of time triggered fear. Watching how this affected others close to me triggered shame.
I Am Not Invincible
But wait a minute…I am that guy that will hold the world on his shoulders. I am that guy who my children look up to and call “Daddy”. That guy whose wife never has had a moment to worry about my dedication and conviction to any task or purpose. I am that guy that never gives up and never gives in……then there is the reality check. When life throws mud at you, how would I respond? When I have failed people's expectations, how will I move forward? When that illusion of the Midas touch no longer exists, how will I succeed?
So I come back to that word courage. Courage despite myself.
Courage to measure me against my expectations and not others. Courage to not look at challenging times as defeats but as moments…fog…smoke…temporary and momentary. Courage to remember that when I feel I have nothing, I have something. Courage to not compare myself to what I once was but to be happy with what I am. Courage to remember that I am not alone.
All of this is in the context of my own little universe that exists among billions of others that face their own mirror every day. As I write this post I think of all of you. You are unique. Your story is your own. Your battles have come with scars. Your days seem like nights quite often. But I thank you for your courage. I thank you for inspiring me to be courageous despite myself.
Written by Jonathan Saar
Here are a couple of great articles I thought were great from a business perspective and how we can show courage as leaders in the workplace.
10 Traits of Courageous Leaders – Forbes.com Favorite quote from this article: Let go of the need for praise and instead give the credit to those around you.
8 Ways To Be A Courageous Leader – Inc.com – Favorite quote from this article: Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.–Winston Churchill