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Leadership Thought #196 – Courage Always Beats The Alternative

August 16, 2011

Free A Participant Climbing a Wall Using a Rope Stock Photo

Courage or the lack of it can define a life.

Most people spend too much time succumbing to their fears.  They consistently talk themselves out of things because of a fixation with the worst possible outcome.  And, in all circumstances, the worst possible outcome never happens or isn’t even a remote possibility.  Worrying about something that probably won’t happen chips away at your self-confidence and is a waste of emotional, mental, and physical energy.  It also leads to regret, and regret in the long term becomes despair and bitterness.  In fact, addressing fear head on regularly has the opposite effect.  It only emboldens you – makes you feel better about yourself.

Last summer, I participated in a wellness program and one of the first activities was riding a zip line.  It involved a steep descent, and you could tell some of the participants were a bit frightened.  Several of them opted out of the activity altogether.  However, many of them went forward despite their fears.  You could see the trepidation on their faces as they lined up to take their turn.  I happened to be the second person to go and helped catch folks on the other end.  It was a wonderful experience.   I had a front row seat to the raw emotion and facial expressions of many people as they finished their ride (and everything turned out okay).  In some cases, the feeling was exuberance.  In others it was a relief.  In all there was a genuine sense of accomplishment. For those who embraced the opportunity, their courage was rewarded.

I look at this zip line experience as a metaphor for life.  There will be instances in any person’s life where they will run smack into their fears.  It could be in either significant or insignificant matters, but in all cases, the fear will be real to the person experiencing it.  Overcoming fear takes courage and being courageous always builds character.  You add a dimension to your character because you show yourself that you’re capable of things you didn’t think possible.  And, stretching the boundaries of what you deem as possible is only ever a good thing.

The people with real fear at the beginning of this zip line experience seemed to carry themselves differently at the end.  They stood a bit taller, had more of a bounce in their step, and exhibited visible relief about making it through unscathed.  It was fun to watch.  Many challenging things will happen to you in your life.  Very few of these obstacles will be life threatening.  There will also be many opportunities to exhibit courage and it will be needed.  Don’t let fear or unnecessary fear or anxiety hinder your opportunities for personal growth and happiness.   Life is too short.

Have courage when it counts, and things will generally fall into place.