An exceptional life must be a life of courage. People who impact the world for good must be courageous. We often think of the bravery that is needed when we read a quote like this one:
“First responders are the people who when a crisis situation occurs can be seen running toward the danger when everyone else is running the other way.”
So we say, “yep, you have to be brave to be in law enforcement.”
But there are many areas where courage is needed that are not as dramatic, but just as demanding. For instance:
- Having the courage to speak up when everyone else is staying silent.
- Having the courage to bear being misunderstood without needing to explain.
- Having the courage to accept innovation and with a positive attitude rather than operating out of the fear of the untested and new.
- Having the courage to endure a painful situation or injury week after week and month after month.
- Having the courage to lead when others are content to simply follow the crowd
You won’t see these acts of courage written up on the front page of the newspaper, but they are just as demanding and sometimes even more so, than running toward the sound of gunfire.
How do you develop courage?
Courage is a heart issue. In fact, the word courage comes from the Latin word for heart – “Cor.”
So we develop courage by developing our heart, or by increasing our love.
- Deepen your love for others.
- Focus on loving integrity and doing right.
- Seek to love adventure over safety.
- Keep your attention on staying calm, not being loved by everyone.
These are things anyone can work on. Each one of them will build up our heart which will naturally grow your courage.(credit to Dr. Brene Brown)
Running toward danger is courageous and I’m sure everyone reading this is willing do exactly that. But, to be truly courageous you must work on demonstrating courage in the areas others may never see. For that you must grow your love. Learn to love big and become fearless.
Leaders are people who see ahead. The good ones are praised for being visionary, and taking action before others even see problems on the horizon. But, like every other gift, your strength can become your weakness when it is taken to the extreme. This is readily apparent in the area of vision. To have vision you need a rich interior life. You need an active imagination. You need curiosity that leads to information gathering. In normal times these traits are helpful to every leader, but in times of unprecedented crisis like we face with the coronavirus, they can lead to depression, discouragement, and mental fatigue. This is because we sometimes misuse our gift of imagination and let it run away with our minds creating catastrophic fears that paralyze us. We see worldwide collapse when the truth is we are only facing a temporary crisis.
Here’s what I do when my imagination tries to push me down a path of fear. I ask myself three questions to bring my mind under control.
- What do I actually know for certain? Versus what am I imagining.
- What is actually happening right now in my life? Versus what I fear may be coming.
- What can I actually do right now? Versus what do I want to do?
The key word is actually. It is the time-tested strategy of remaining in the present.
- You must discipline yourself to only think about what you know to be true in the moment, not what you fear will appear.
- Jesus Christ said that we must live in the present day, that its troubles were enough to deal with.
So lead with what you know, not what you fear. When we stay with what we know, it’s almost always manageable.
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Confidence. What does it look like? It is professional boxer, Muhammad Ali declaring that he is the greatest boxer of all time , and then going out to prove it by beating opponents no one thought he could. It is sprinter, Usain Bolt declaring himself to be the fastest in the world and then going out and setting a world record of by running 100 meters in just 9.58 seconds. What does it look like? It is women’s professional soccer legend, Abby Wambach calling for the ball in tied match when the time is running out then putting it in the net. The have the power of presence.
People of presence always do four things:
- Own the room
- Speak to be heard
- Dress the part
- Project energy
Simple things you can do to project confidence.
- Stand up straight
- Look people in the eye
- Put down your phone
- Have firm grip when you shake hands
- Choose a seat near the front of the room
- If there is discussion, raise your hand and ask a question
- Sit in a relaxed manner
It’s time for people to think of you when they hear the phrase, she “owns the room.”
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” Mark Twain
Sailing is immensely easier when the captain catches the wind in the sails. It means breaking out of the still waters and surging forward with seemingly endless power. To stand on a sailing vessel, when the wind is filling and straining the canvas sails to their full capacity is exhilarating and exciting. You can hear the sound of the ocean giving way to the force of your ship’s prow slicing through its waves.
Every life has times when you catch the wind in your sails. Those times when you fill unstoppable. When the obstacles of your life fall before you and your projects cut through life’s bureaucracy like a ship’s prow under full sail. Not only do you make progress, but your success seems almost effortless. You chart new dreams as you achieve old ones like a captain plotting new coordinates as his ship passes familiar points of call.
We don’t always call it “wind in the sails.” Sometimes we call it “being in the flow.” Sometimes we refer to it as “being in the groove.” As a man of faith, I call it having the favor of God on my life.If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out on one of life’s great joys.
Can we prompt the wind in sails effect? It appears that the phenomena has something to do with timing and that’s limiting, but there are things we can do.
- Relentlessly prepare yourself for success.
- Never surrender your passion for your dreams.
- Prune your life of behaviors that lower your integrity.
- Surround yourself with dreamers and goal achievers.
- Deepen your faith.
- Go further in your disciplines of faith.
- Clean the junk out of your life.
- Ask God to make you useful.
You never know when the wind will show up, but the above points will have you prepared and ready to take advantage when it does.
Twenty years will pass before you know it. When that day comes, will you be disappointed by your habit of playing it safe. Throw off your bowlines of your life, quit paddling around in the safe harbors. Let’s go sailing and feel wind in our sails and the hand of God on our lives.
God has some adventures waiting for you.
I loved the study of mythology when I was a kid. Those ancient tales were full of gods, centaurs, one-eyed giants, dashing heroes, and massive sea creatures.
The word myth- is defined as : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone. For instance, in the picture above, ancient sailors believed in the myths of a giant octopus that could swallow up their ships if they sailed too far into uncharted territories.
These myths passed down from older and supposedly wiser seamen kept many from achieving their dreams of finding new routes to new markets. Instead, they remained stuck in the old and poorly designed routes followed by generations of sailing ships. Of course, some bold navigators, scoffed at the myths and they charted new routes to immensely profitable new markets.
They refused to believe the myths.
If you are going to become the person you were intended to be, you must confront the myths of personal inadequacy.
Here some of the most popular ones:
- Teachers and parents are always right
- Job descriptions are inclusive and accurate
- Academic degrees are barometers of success
- Past failures are character definitions
- Experience trumps creativity
Which of these myths has kept you from reaching for your dream? Recognize them for the limiting beliefs that they are. Whichever one you choose, there are plenty of people who succeeded in spite of facing that very challenge.
I love the story of Albert Einstein. His early childhood teachers thought him to be ignorant and sent him home from school with a note to his mother telling her not to send him back. When the boy asked his mother what the note said she replied, “They wrote… you are too intelligent and creative to attend our limited school and I should keep you home to allow you to blossom at a quicker rate.” She did keep him home and his genius eventually changed the world. Those teachers were wrong! Are you letting the opinion of a long-ago teacher or parent limit you today? Recognize it for the myth it is and get started achieving your dream.
It’s time to quit living in the haze of mythology and move forward in full confidence that you have what it takes to succeed.
When I was in high school there was a beautiful girl I had a crush on. I never tried to date her, because I felt she was out of my league. Every day, I sat by her in class and we became good friends, but I secretly wanted more. I never told her. I watched someone else date her and eventually marry her. Many years later, I learned that she was secretly hoping I would ask her out on a date. I was devasted. I could have asked her out, but I never did. I missed the opportunity to see what might have become of our relationship. Luckily for me, I asked out the next beautiful girl I got interested in and she’s now my wife.
Are you limiting your life because you feel inadequate? Have you accepted a lessor role in life and business because you decided in advance that you are not up to the challenge of a new opportunity? Did you fail to submit your name for consideration when that higher-level position opened up at work? Do you “chicken out” of asking that attractive person on a date? Did you fail to sign up for the courses you really want to take in college, because you didn’t think you were smart enough? These are all habits found in the lives of unsuccessful and unfulfilled people. They don’t do the things mentioned, because they fear they won’t succeed, and even worse, they fear they don’t have what it takes to succeed. The tragedy is that such feelings are lies. You don’t know what you can do until you try. There are powers and skills within you that you haven’t even discovered yet.
Reasons why we feel inadequate:
- We doubt our training.
- We doubt our skills.
- We doubt our experience.
- We doubt our worthiness.
- We doubt our vision.
- We doubt our connections.
- We doubt ourselves.
It’s time to change all that “stinking thinking” right here and now. Decide there is more in you than you have manifested up to now. Decide to go for whatever and whoever you want in life. Start assuming that who you are is enough. Let the people you want to impress make their own decisions about you. Let potential new employers or new girlfriends make up their own minds about you, instead of rejecting yourself before they get the chance. Stop limiting yourself.
In my next blog, I’ll tackle some of the myths of inadequacy, but for now, stop your doubting and start going after who and what you want.