If you read my previous post, you know I have adopted Courage as my focus word for 2011 after being inspired by Ali Edward’s One Little Word challenge. I think Courage fits nicely with my quest to live a wholehearted life. What is more courageous than learning to be yourself?
I, like Ali, believe you don’t really find the right word; the right focus word finds you. I’ve been chewing on the idea of courage for a few weeks now. Inspired by the charge to have more “courageous conversations” in my business; learning that courage is one of the Gifts of Imperfection; even discovering I had already blogged about courage before officially declaring this my 2011 word.
In Gifts of Imperfection, Brene’ Brown quotes theologian Mary Daly, “Courage. You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”
Here are some other quotes on courage that inspire me.
- Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. (Maya Angelou)
- Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. (Winston Churchill)
- Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts. (John Wooden)
- If you only do what you know you can do, you never do very much. (Unknown)
- Courage is knowing what not to fear. (Plato)
- Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway. (Dr. Robert Anthony)
- Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
I am especially moved by the thoughts of courage as quiet strength. Brene’ Brown calls this Ordinary Courage — not flashy heroics but everyday acts of stretching myself a little more than I did yesterday. The courage to try something new. The courage to speak up (or bite my tongue). The courage to acknowledge I don’t do everything perfectly. The courage to be OK with the imperfection. The courage to open my heart and mind to wherever focusing on Courage may take me this year.
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” Oh, how this has been true for me over the last weeks as I have desired, then determined to live more intentionally — more wholeheartedly. In fact, I can hardly read fast enough or journal long enough or create enough blog posts to even begin to reach more than just the tip of inspiration that has been flooded my way. Most definitely, when you are ready to be quiet enough, the messages you need will come.
And, in my experience, they come in wave after wave of awe.
Here’s an example. Ali Edwards & I were colleagues back in my publishing days. Ali is one of those people I enjoyed running into during conventions because her energy is contagious and her authenticity is crystal clear. She’s honest about the imperfect, but wonderful life she lives. Plus, she’s almost always smiling. So it was really fun to see her name on the back of my new favorite book (as you know by now, Brene’ Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection.) Turns out Ali & Brene’ are friends, too. Why am I not surprised! Kolette Hall was another of my scrapbook industry friends. We met when Kolette & her brother were starting a scrapbooking company and I, as an editor, was in a position to help them get the word out. But she clearly was never trying to use me as a connection, just a friend. Kolette writes a blog I love: The Art of Choosing Joy — and the title is true to the life she leads. If anyone had the right to choose anything but joy, it would be Kolette. But she doesn’t. I love and admire her more than she will ever know for that!
So when Kolette wrote about Ali’s One Little Word idea, it was the Perfect Storm of Inspiration.
One Little Word works like this. Pick one word that you want to focus on, study, reflect upon, learn about in the New Year. Then watch and see what this word can teach you. I have a pretty good feeling that it, too, will be an experience of finding strength and learning and surprise and delight in places I never expected simply because I started looking.
So my word for 2011 is … Courage. What’s yours?
There is always a reason not to bother with making a change. It’s almost always easier to just stay the same. So as I choose to be more real, I already knew courage would be a recurring theme in the journey. The inner critic would really rather I not rock the boat.
In the War of Art, author Steven Pressfield defines the enemy of change as Resistance – with a capital R. And he is very, very clear. Resistance only shows up when the change is worth doing.
Ok, so I have to face Resistance – the enemy of a new blog, a new way of thinking, eating better, sleeping more, or ANY pursuit worth doing. But I love how Pressfield defines and characterizes Resistance because he makes it way less scary. Here’s a peek at my bullet-points gleaned from several chapters of the War of Art.
- Is impersonal. It’s not out to get me. It doesn’t even know who & am and doesn’t care. It resists only for the sake of resisting.
- Has no strength of its own. All of its power comes from my fear of it.
- Gets stronger the closer I get to the finish line.
- Likes to distract me with a cheap, easy fix in order to keep me from doing my work.
- Most often shows itself as procrastination.
- Is expressed as fear. But the pro tackles the project that makes him stretch. The amateur bows to the resistance.
- Must be fought anew everyday. Its repeat appearances, then, does not mean I should give up. Quite the opposite. Repeated resistance means I am still headed in the right direction.
And this is my favorite: “Resistance is always lying and always full of crap.” (Ok, so he uses a different word, but I’m going with this one.) What a relief! I don’t have to worry about whether that inner critic is making sense or has a good argument – I just have to call her out for the liar she is and keep on doing the work (whatever it may be) that I have been called to do.
Christopher Robin says it like this to Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
But as much as I love that quote, I think I’ll cling more tightly to this one: “If God is for us, who can be against us?…In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37)