December 15, 2022

Have you got the courage to start?

Imagine a world without failure. A world where everything goes your way. You say yes. Everyone agrees with you. No awkward conversations, no disappointment. You win every contract you apply for. Sounds wonderful, but where are the lessons? Without failure, you live in a world with no authentic life lessons that help define you.

Stop for a moment

If failure is the lack of success or the non-doing of something, failure can come from the absence of having the courage to start. To help the fight against failure we need courage, which is the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation.

Courage is a word I often use to describe the actions of others; they showed great courage against the odds to get back on their bike after that horrible fall or making that move to a new job took real courage. Unless I know that person well, how do I know it took courage it may just have been a simple action.

What is a simple action for one person, could take days, weeks, months, or even years for someone else to even start.

Let’s flip it

It’s time to rethink courage and what if rather than the ability to control fear in a dangerous situation it is the ability to take advantage of fear and open a world of opportunities.

This is what COURAGE means to me.

Curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Opportunity. Take the opportunities that come my way.
Unique. I am unique, remember that.
Roam. Don’t be afraid to wander without purpose, it might be exactly what I need to find clarity.
Aspire. Dare to dream. Life is about my journey, not my destination.
Growth. Discover my true self and need for authenticity in all I do.
Experience. What I experience can completely change my outlook.

Exercising courage

As humans, we are all unique. Our personalities in different environments can lead us to have more courage in some aspects of life and not in others. I tend to internalise courage and often refer to this as putting on my ‘big girl pants’.

This July I went on my first foreign business trip since Covid. The objective was to keep my feet firmly on the ground and my brain in sponge mode. I was there to listen, learn, process, and ask questions.

As I said this trip was about keeping my feet on the ground in the metaphorical sense but as someone petrified of heights in the literal sense too. So… when it came up as a passing comment in conversation that we were going bridge climbing, I could feel the colour drain from my face and my palms start to sweat. How on earth can I get out of this? I mean, if I was with close friends or family, we would not even be having this conversation. Yet, there I was, valuables to one side, dust suit on so no clothes would catch on parts of the bridge, wearing a headpiece (which would be speaking Danish), walking towards the bottom step about to commence my bridge climb.

No time to think, no time to run and hide. Just a time to convert that nervous energy into courage. And climb.

Taking the first step was the hardest, sweaty palms, anxious smile and whatever I did, I must not look down. Eventually, along with my fellow climbers, Morten and I reached a raised platform, somehow not having to take a step higher calmed the nerves. I gradually began to release my grip on the railing (I was clipped on!) and could start to admire the view as together we shuffled our way across the other side of the water. It was only then I realised we had to get back, (don’t ask me why this only hit me at this point!) and to do that we would have to even higher, over the top of the bridge. We then the same distance on the other side, then up and over the bridge (again) and then finally down to sea level.

Phew. I did it. We did it. We climbed Lillebælt Bridge in Denmark, at 60m above sea level.

Having the courage to climb Lillebælt Bridge in Denmark

Reflecting on that time, and putting things into perspective, I don’t know about you, but I am often faced with challenges that, at first, seem like mountains that are impossible to climb. From public speaking, clicking send on a critical piece of copy, to picking up the phone and starting a new conversation, they are all processes that start with the fear of failure and channelling that to have the courage to start.

What you can do to channel your inner courage

My advice to you is to be curious enough to open the door to opportunities that are unique as you are. Find the freedom within to roam and articulate your aspirations so you can grow and experience each new day.

Have the courage to say yes, as what terrifies you one day may excite you the next.

Congratulations on making it this far, see you on the other side in 2023!

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