How to Live a Life of Courage
“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was a brilliant speaker. This is one of my favorite quotes of his because for me, it captures the essence of what it means to have courage. Courage isn’t the ability to live without fear. It’s not even solely the willingness to act despite fear. I mean, how many defeated, tired, old people do we see who keep plodding along though life’s challenges who have the light whipped out of them? I give them credit for being determined, but I wouldn’t call them courageous.
No. Courage is the ability to keep a fire in your heart while you keep going. “Cor,” after all, means heart in Latin. So how do you do that? Live like a child.
Be in the Now
Given the permission and space to do so, kids play. They explore. They do what pleases them. Winning isn’t the goal. Building for posterity or a legacy is definitely not part of the program. Nor is trying to amass stuff. They just focus on right now. When you’re here now, it’s easy to stay in your heart space. There aren’t a lot of goals, worries, or check lists nagging you to do something else or be somewhere else. So, if you fall off your skateboard for the twelfth time today, so what? It means nothing. You just get back on. If you can do that at work or in romance, wow, you’re courageous!
Learn From Others
All little brothers and sisters learn from their big brothers and sisters. If they are only children or oldest children, they learn from their parents. The point is, they don’t try to do it on their own. When we get older, many of us stop asking for help. It’s like we think that if we ask questions, we show how stupid we are.
No, it actually shows how curious and interested we are. It shows that we respect, or at least will entertain the thoughts of, the person we’re engaging in conversation. It shows we’re in the game of growth. So don’t be afraid of stepping into beginner’s mind. It’s the best seat in the house!
What happens to the little kid who doesn’t want to learn how to ride a bike because he is afraid he will fall? He gets left behind! So, he learns that if he wants to keep up, he has to make some mistakes. And when he falls, so what? He just gets back up until he can ride smoothly. It doesn’t take long.
Kids don’t have this expectation that they are going to do things well the first time. They are kids. They already know they don’t know a lot so their expectations are low. They also don’t judge mistakes as being the end of the world. They are just mistakes. If you take that perspective, your mistakes can pave the way to glory.
Don’t Take Yourself (Or Others) So Seriously
Kids don’t have all these values yet about what makes a person important, worthy, or fun. They can pretty much relate to anyone and accept them as they are. They might spout off and say things like Aunt Gert smells funny, but it’s usually more a reaction to their senses rather than a personal judgment. If you want to keep heart, that’s something to strive for.
Don’t take yourself or others so seriously. No matter what your job, your responsibilities, or your salary, you’re just another person. So is the high school graduate at the check out, the best selling author on tv, and the pilot on your next flight. If you did something better or worse than one of them, so what? If you’re more or less attractive than one of them, so what? When you’re just a gal, and I’m, just a gal, we’re more likely to meet, enjoy each other, and make some beautiful music together. And if we butt heads instead, oh well. It’s just a moment in time. We can brush it off and move on with a smile on our faces.
Life has lots of ups and downs. There are a whole lot of ways to get beat down. It’s easy to lose heart and stay down. They next time you are tempted to sit this next one out, or go down and stay down, channel your inner child. Ask him what he’d do and invite him out to play. You know he won’t let you down.