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Courage: Live like a Lion

It is better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand days as a lamb.

-- Roman Proverb

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What challenge would you dare to conquer? What dream would you make happen? What conversation would you initiate? Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Most of us have not deeply explored such a startling idea because before we even start we are already paralyzed by fear. Too often we allow fears and doubts to determine what we will say and do. Fear is a very potent poison that holds us back from success. Success to realize who we are. Fear often holds us back as coaches from taking our clients to new levels of performance and greater life satisfaction.

The antidote to fear is courage. Aristotle called courage the first virtue, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. We all have it in some measure. Indeed many people seem to have it in abundance. Olympic athletes who fling themselves down steep precipices on narrow skis, the firefighters at Ground Zero who plunged head first into a burning building, the paralyzed invalid who goes before large audiences to tell their story. There is so much and so many types of courage yet somehow when the next Monday morning arrives we do not have that courage that will propel us towards becoming all that we can be.

Courage can’t be taught, I’m told. It can be learned though and most everyone has the capacity to be courageous.

I am learning it every day and the curve is steeper than ever! Eight years ago I switched careers for the third time. I started as an international marketing executive for which I was duly trained at a prestigious business school. I was too brash to be fearful. In my second career as a mother of four children I was too tired to have time for fear. But for my third career as a coach and leadership development facilitator I knew I was in deep water. I was scared. I wanted to make a difference to my clients, I wanted to be asking those powerful questions. I wanted to get the assignments in companies so I could help shift their leadership styles and consciousness.

So I learned to develop my courage muscle. And as a well-trained coach I approached it from three angles: reading, doing and reflecting. There are many tools for developing courage in yourself and in your clients. You may decide to list your achievements, or work to face your fear and go through it, or decide to do something fearful every day.

Let’s try another exercise right now: Take a moment and write down what do you actually fear right now? In your personal life? In your professional life? Now let’s shed some light on it using the F.E.A.R. model: False Evidence Appearing Real. What are the real dangers? And what are your false fears that the ego has constructed so that it can keep you imprisoned in your own mind, unwilling to be fully alive because it’s too risky to venture out. When you shine a light on these unhealthy fears and call them out for what they are, you can make unconscious emotions conscious and reframe false evidence. The result is developing an inner security and courage that will allow you to move into action with a clear knowingness of what you need to do.

Dan Rather once said: “Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.” In the end, as a coach we will not be able to magically make the fear of our clients or ourselves go away. But we may be able to learn how to put them to the side just long enough to be able to take a bold step forward.

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