The Courage to “Be Me”Oct 03, 2022
“It takes COURAGE to grow up and become who you really are.” ~ E. E. Cummings
I think that - growing up and becoming me - is the most courage-taxing thing I’ve ever attempted. Even being a parent focuses the attention somewhere else, taking the spotlight off of me. But figuring out who I am, what I stand for, and how I need to show up in the world… THAT has taken courage.
There are SO many areas where we can apply this right now. While I can’t tell you exactly where YOU need to apply it, I personally apply all these principles to the continued need to grow up and show up - as me. I hid behind a socially accepted facade for so long, that just understanding that my voice, with its unique perspective, expertise and wisdom is valuable and needed - and showing up each day, as me, is win.
What does Courage look like?
I believe there are three main components - and there is no way around the idea that the first of them is LEADING - yep, It means being willing to be out front. Be the lead goose, so to speak. You know what I mean. Sometimes it’s good to keep your mouth shut, but often, someone just needs to be out front leading the way. Might as well be you.
You don’t need to be extroverted to be a leader - people just need to know you care about them. When others feel valued and seen, they’re automatically drawn to you… you know what we call that? We call it Charisma. Not empty flattery, we both know that doesn’t work! You know when someone isn’t really interested in you - and they know when you’re not really interested in them - so it needs to be the real deal. For some of us, this ability comes naturally. Maybe you’re a “people person” and you just love interacting with others. What if, though, you’re an “action” person or a “task” person. You can STILL develop this skill. I have this conversation within the corporate world when it comes to how those in upper management view their employees - are they an expense to be managed or mitigated, or are they assets that can increase in value? When you see people as inherently valuable, you just interact differently. You make different choices, you use different words, you use different body language. Others can tell what you think of them. When they feel valued, they’ll follow your lead… even if you’re not in a position of leadership.
One of the best ways to do this, is to put others' needs ahead of your own… Simply put, serve others. As we heard last week from Julia Roberts, she views her job in the mortgage industry not as sales, but as a way of helping others achieve their goals and dreams. This makes her extremely popular - and landed her on so many civic and nonprofit boards she had to start turning them down. Serving others means you choose to put their needs first, which changes your perspective. If you’re a parent, I don’t need to explain this to you. A new baby or child in your life changes everything. How many movies can you think of right off the bat where this is the whole premise? Right? Selfishness goes out the window. What if we started using that kind of thinking about everyone else? What differences could we make in our communities?
Another, important way you can lead is through sharing your vision. Not everyone has the ability to see what may be out ahead. When you’re that “lead goose,” you automatically have a better view - so share it! Maybe you’re someone, like me, who is a “horizon thinker.” I tend to look out a good bit further than most people, and while my husband doesn’t always like the fact that I think 3, 6 or 9 months down the road, especially when he doesn’t like what I think I see (because he’s much more “tree-oriented” and I’m a bit more “forest-oriented”)… this isn’t necessarily about being right or wrong, it’s about seeing the big picture. He ends up coming back to me and admitting that I was right - which I never turn down! This is also how I help my coaching clients. Sometimes I can see things they can’t (because I’m outside looking in, or maybe with them it’s tree vs forest). Sharing that vision with them opens their eyes to new possibilities.
The second major component Courage, and a bit of an obvious one, is being ADVENTUROUS! No, don’t tell me you’re a homebody - because so am I. You have to choose to change your perspective here. Seek adventure! Come on now, even just making a wrong turn on your way to the opera can be seen as an adventure! Heck, maybe just going to the opera is an adventure. Trust me, WE (my husband and I) have been on MANY adventures. If you need help shifting your mindset over to this view point, I have a tip for you (surprise) - try new things, honey, TRY NEW THINGS! My sister had kids over 14 years before I did… in fact, she was actually pregnant with my niece at my wedding! So I had plenty of years to watch and learn… not that I did… but that’s another story. When her kids were young there was a period of time when she really wanted them to expand their food choices, and she set out a new fruit or vegetable for them to try each day. Granted, there were a few surprises - one day we’ll tell the story about how she cooked a cucumber instead of a zucchini - but overall, they discovered new flavors they didn’t know they liked. Last fall, I ran a 30-day challenge to try something new every day. Tell you what, if you’re interested in doing that with me this fall, snap a screenshot where you’re listening, tag me and give me a #trynewthings! I’m game to jump back in. We can make November the “Try New Things” month.
The reason this is important, is that it teaches your brain to keep learning and expanding. Every new thing you try or learn develops new neural pathways, kind of like cutting a new path through the woods or really tall grass. At first, it feels hard, and there’s a lot of resistance, but with each trip over that pathway, it gets easier and easier. That means the next time you come up on a challenge or obstacle, you have both the conditioning for paving a new path, or you may already have several more routes from which to choose, which gives you the ability to live undaunted. When you aren’t intimidated or discouraged by your circumstances, you live with the understanding that you actually CAN do hard, new or really different things.
But most of all, if you’re gonna to be adventurous, for heaven’s sake, make it fun! I’m learning a whole lot about being what I call a “Challenge Acceptor.” You see, having a 6th grade BOY in virtual school during the pandemic meant that recess consisted of tree limb sword fights and trampoline acrobatics. Lunch was a quick round of Uno Attack or SkipBo… True confession - my husband is WAY better at this than I am. But I’m learning. Breaking up your day with little fun activities boosts serotonin and feelings of hope. Making a game out of trying new fruits and vegetables (even if you should have used zucchini) is a little like the philosophy Mary Poppins used… you know… a spoonful of sugar, and all.
The third main component I see in Courage is RESILIENCE. This is the ability to bounce back from adversity and hardship - and it may not come naturally to you… if not, consider this: you can grow and develop your resilience. You start on the inside, and we usually identify this as growing your character - who you are when no one’s looking. This means you decide (up front), to do what you say you are going to do - even when it’s hard. I’m notorious for pushing “to-do” items to the next day… and the next day… and the next. Eventually, things will come due, and I need to follow through on my commitments. This doesn’t only apply to tasks…
Acting in accordance or alignment with your principles can mean you have to do hard things. It’s easy to come up with examples of this in parenting - but what about at work? At church? In your community? The PTA? Right now, this is incredibly relevant in how we treat those with whom we don’t agree - on politics, racial reconciliation, mask-wearing. If I truly value each person, then how I interact with them should reflect that fact.
Character MATTERS, we are role modeling for anyone watching. And we’re teaching our kids how to live and function in this crazy world… This doesn’t mean I don’t stand my ground on issues I believe are important, it just means I desire to show that I honor and value people.
When you do this with consistency, in the small, everyday stuff, you can make big changes. James Clear, his book Atomic Habits, lays this down as one of his fundamentals. He says “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” Just 1% consistent improvement over time, will get you there faster than you imagine. “A slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination.” Think about when you’re driving on the highway, and you adjust the steering wheel just a little bit to the right - makes a big difference, doesn’t it?
This shows up in my courage and resilience, as I learn to have patience with my pre-teen son’s “new-found” ability to spout verbal zingers - one after another, after another… If you’ve raised a child into adulthood, I know you feel me here! I’m also seeing the results of incremental change in my health - in permanent weight loss and better sleeping habits - but mostly I see evidence in my own personal growth. One of the biggest compliments I’ve EVER received was from my best friend, of nearly 30 years when she said “girl, I’m so proud of you - you just seem bigger - in all the good ways.” That still makes me feel good.
Lastly, we develop our resilience and stay consistent by lasering in our focus. Know what you want to achieve, and learn to hone in on it. If it’s important to you, you already do this. We always focus on what’s important. Maybe use this as a diagnostic tool - look at what you focus on, and work backwards to find out what you think is important. Could be quite the wake up call.
How can you begin incorporating these principles?
Where do you lack Courage?
- Perhaps it’s time to step into a leadership role - if so, make sure you’re doing it with humility, valuing and serving others, and sharing whatever vision you’ve been given.
- Do you find yourself living in a constant state of fear or needing safety? That’s really easy to do right now. Maybe it’s time to be intentional about embracing an attitude of adventure. Want to do a 30 day New Things challenge? No time like the present.
- It's easy to get worn down, especially as things are really starting to ramp up into the holiday season. Deciding what’s important, focusing, and consistently practicing what we commit to will build up our resilience.
Contact ME! Seriously, drop me a #trynewthings or tell me about how you’re having FUN… I’d love to hear your adventures in the middle of all this “mess.”
If you’re someone who likes steps and specifics, I do have another blog post for you. It’s titled “Develop Quiet Courage - 12 Steps”. If you just want an easy way to do your own 30 days of New experiences, there’s a link on that page that will give you a quick, one page journal.
I’d love to hear from you and encourage you as you work to develop your Courage. You can start by subscribing to this podcast, then drop a comment or a review right below where you listen. As always, you can email me at [email protected] and let me know how I can be your professional encourager!
Are you like me? Do you need to grow up and show up - as YOU? Maybe your voice is the one we need! Well, I can help with that. Book your free 30 minute consultation and we’ll set up a time to talk about how 1:1 coaching could be the answer for you.
If you’d like to discover your strengths, in order to help you step into leadership with more confidence? Let’s talk about getting you a DISC assessment. The Maxwell Method of DISC provides a 30 page report that will help you tap into your greatest motivations, dramatically improve your relationships and accelerate your results. Check out your options here: DISC Services, or book a consultation and we'll figure out what you need
Until next time!
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