Acts of Courage

 

ACTS OF COURAGE

July 2, 2020 

 

Excessive caution destroys the soul and the heart, because
living is an act of courage, and
an act of courage is always an act of love.”

This is a quote from Manuscript Found in Accra, a captivating novel by best-selling author Paulo Coelho, published in 2012. It is a story of a city under siege, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together peacefully and are preparing for annihilation from the armies of the Crusades. The novel is a series of parables as spoken by a Sage about love, faith, friendship, bravery, community and uncovering the sources of human fears and anxieties, written down to preserve the wisdom of the city’s soul.

To be clear, by choosing this quote, I am not talking about the current controversy of whether to wear face masks or not. Coelho is speaking to life and death issues – from the great wisdom traditions.  

Our focus in this newsletter is on courage -- acts of courage to face our fears and move forward in the midst of uncertainty and during what can appear, at times, to be a chaotic landscape.

I am dedicating my restart of Blogging to everyone on the front line of this global COVID 19 pandemic for your acts of service, your acts of love: doctors, nurses, hospital staff, EMS, FEMA, people working in grocery stores, restaurants who stayed open for take-out meals, teachers and students adapting to remote learning, our nonprofits such as United Way, Salvation Army, volunteers at food pantries, firefighters, police officers and the public policy leaders -- and the list goes on and on.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  Your acts of service, your acts of courage are, indeed, acts of love.

I believe each of us has a short list of our own acts of courage over the past four months. I would like to honor each person’s acts of courage and love as we continue to figure our way out of the current mess and emotional contagion.

I am suggesting each of us take a moment to reflect on the personal of acts of courage and love which we have demonstrated over the past four months. 

This is a very deep and valuable exercise. Perhaps it will feel challenging. I know it felt that way to me when I sat down this week to write in my journal to create my list. 

First, I had to put aside judgment. For example, I had to put aside comparing what was on my list to my observation of what other’s had done. I also had to put aside a feeling that what I had done was not good enough – or that I could have done more.  I also needed to be totally honest with myself – both about my fears and how well I actually rose to the challenge. Ouch – there are some lessons we need to learn over and over again, at deeper and deeper levels. It is the journey that matters, not the destination. Right? 

So, may we agree there is no right or wrong in this exercise? It is really about being honest and positive, celebrating both the big and the small wins, recognizing the value is in our best efforts rather than the outcome, and discovering deeper levels of self-awareness --  more deeply appreciating the energy of courage and love that is there inside of every one of  us. 

To get started, perhaps it is helpful to understand the many faces and dimensions of courage. For example, Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, author, and speaker, has written in a Blog for Psychology Today, “The Six Attributes of Courage: There are different types of courage, ranging from physical strength and endurance to mental stamina and innovation.” Indeed, there are many different ways in which we define and demonstrate courage and it feels like Dr. Greenberg’s list is a good place to start: 

  • Feeling fear yet choosing to act.
  • Following your heart.
  • Persevering in the face of adversity.
  • Standing up for what is right.
  • Expanding your horizons; letting go of the familiar.
  • Facing suffering with dignity or faith. 

In reviewing these attributes of courage, I asked myself – what actions have I taken over the past four months to work past my fears, follow my heart, show resilience in the face of defeat, or go outside my comfort zone, etc.? 

So, here goes. While I may not be a “hero” in the traditional sense, I am a warrior, a peaceful warrior, on a path of service and on a journey to deeper and deeper levels of awareness. In this sense, we are all on the Hero’s Journey as Joseph Campbell has so eloquently written and researched. My personal list of acts of courage and love for the last four months are:   

  1. I gave-up multi-tasking and believing I could do it all. I surrendered to the fact I am not super woman. At the start of 2020, I took on a big project for a nonprofit that is near and dear to my heart. I believed I could add on the demands of this project along side my coaching practice. Guess what? The project required substantially more time than I anticipated – and I was back to working 60-hour weeks to meet all my commitments. I followed my heart – it was the right thing to do. And somethings had to give – like meeting my schedule for posting Blogs for my A.L. Falls Advisors coaching practice. 
  1. I made more mistakes than I ever have in all my life. Fortunately, none of them proved to be fatal. In the process -- and it was messy -- I learned to laugh at myself and gained a deeper level of understanding of humility. I had to face my fears of … what will people think… if I am not on time, if I get dates confused, if my work and texts have typos? It was a humbling experience. I was stretched to the max and beyond. At the same time, I was doing what I loved and wanted to do – and yet, not measuring up to my standards. I persevered, knowing I was doing the right thing. Sometimes acts of courage are not anticipated – they only become clear after the fact. 
  1. I also became monomaniacally focused. This was a phrase I picked up from my training with Robin Sharma. I liked the sound of it! I took on something I had never done before – writing three grants with deadlines in March and April. My effort to do the very best job – and ask for help to make sure I did everything possible to assure the best possible outcome -- became monumentally important, in my perspective. I became monomaniacally focused. Once I completed the grants on time, I took a moment to look up the definition of monomaniacal: “An inordinate or obsessive zeal for or interest in a single thing, idea, subject, or the like.” Yep – I was crazed. Hmmm, was that on the list of the attributes of courage? Guess I will add that one to the list. 
  1. I demonstrated my resilience – in many ways, at several important junctures. One test stands out. Of the 3 grant proposals I submitted, only 1 was approved. I had done my very best. So many people were terrifically supportive. Yes, the results were disappointing – and it was nothing personal. Did I bounce right back? Honestly, no. I ruminated. I talked it out with close friends and associates. It took me a couple of days to get my mindset turned around. And now, we are moving on to the challenge of finding new ways to define the projects and/or new sources of funding. When the courage and love is there – short term setbacks are not failures – they are lessons in resilience and perseverance. 
  1. By March I was telling myself – you must slow down. It took me to the end of May to finally slow down. I started making the tough choices of prioritizing and focusing on the most important tasks. I made time for 2 funerals, to support friends with health issues. I made time for my wonderful Yogi, a yellow lab, with a tumor, which thankfully was not cancerous. And then, I finally made time for myself to re-energize. I started to take part of the weekends off. I still want to work in more play time – and I believe I will! I slowed down – to be a better friend, to be a better listener, to take better care of my health, and to become a better version of mySelf. 

I sincerely hope you will pull out your journal and write your list of acts of courage in the last four months. I trust it will give a boost to your positive mindset and be an inspiration to you to continue to grow and forge ahead. 

It is great to be reconnecting with you, dear readers. I sincerely apologize for disappearing for a time. 

 

Till next time, stay well!

May you be happy now and always 

 

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