Published in Womeninc, August 2005
by Diana Gabriel
Women take risks that require courage on a daily basis. Courage can be seen as a way of being, a way in which we are in choice about how we live our lives. It takes great courage to live a life aligned with your values and to follow your life purpose. You demonstrate courage when you choose to face everyday challenges by turning them into opportunities; when you deal with problems straight on; when you trust and follow your intuition. Courage always involves risk. When you speak the truth, even when it is unpopular; when you stand up for what is right and what you believe in; when you show compassion and forgiveness when wronged; and when you resist the temptation to take the easy way out, you are exhibiting courage.There are many lenses through which we see courage. Webster’s Dictionary defines courage this way: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” This definition of courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. When faced with life or death situations, our inner strength emerges, and we are often able to react with courage. We hear stories of great acts of courage in which women have faced trauma or have taken significant risks, such as fleeing their homeland, as in the story this month. Courage, in this case, is a conscious decision to put oneself in harm’s way and make a personal sacrifice in the service of something greater than oneself. This story, and others like it, inspire us to use fear to our advantage and take action to create a life we want, speaking and living from our hearts.
There are also quiet acts of courage that women have shown throughout time, as they push against the grain, defy complacency and reach for their dreams. Those acts alone are remarkable, but more remarkable still is that they are often pursued for the good of others. A great example is in the stories of women leaving established careers and going back to school, or changing careers to pursue powerful dreams and new goals like the one this month on becoming a pastor.
We have all been blessed with many stories of risk and courage over the past year in the stories told in Womeninc. Each of us can be in choice with how we respond to everyday events and major challenges by knowing who we are and by being intentional about living our life purpose. Courage, then, is not the special quality of super-heroes or extraordinary people, but something we do and live everyday, as part of our ordinary lives.
Courage is the strength to stand up
When it’s easier to fall down and lose hold.
It is the conviction to explore new horizons
When it’s easier to believe what we’ve been told.
Courage is the desire to maintain our integrity
When it’s easier to look the other way.
It is feeling happy and alive, and moving forward
When it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves and stay.
Courage is the will to shape our world
When it’s easier to let someone else do it for us.
It is the recognition that none of us are perfect
When it’s easier to criticize others and fuss.
Courage is the power to step forward and lead
When it’s easier to follow the crowd; their pleas resound.
It is the spirit that places you on top of the mountain
When it’s easier to never leave the ground.
The foundation of courage is solid,
The rock that doesn’t roll.
Courage is the freedom
Of our mind, body, and soul!