Finding Your Courage

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Find Your Inner Lion or Lioness

Courage. I just love the word courage. It’s like The Lion King movie with the scene when the hyenas keep saying Mufasa’s name over and over. Oooh courage, say it again. I watch too many kid movies I know. But this is perfect. Because in order to have courage, we need to draw on the inner lions and lionesses residing inside us to go get what we want in life.

So we’ve been talking on the last several blogs and podcasts a lot about fear; what causes it, some strategies to overcome it, how it impacts our decision making and what emotions are associated with our fears. Especially when it comes to our fear of uncertainty and failure. I’ve really wanted to dive into the depths of this category because this is a big one. Not only is fear a complex subject with so many tunnels veering off, but it’s also a huge impact on our lives if we don’t deal with it in the proper manner.

Because here’s the thing. Fear can stop amazing, talented people in their tracks from pursuing and realizing their dreams. Therefore prohibiting them from providing amazing value and beauty into this world. And I just don’t want that to happen.

A Lesson of Courage from Bob Cassilly

So I want to share a story. I’m from the St. Louis area and over the past weekend, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at a place called the City Museum in downtown St. Louis. So this place was founded by a true artist and visionary named Bob Cassilly. And I’m telling you, it is absolutely magical! Everything is built from repurposed materials, and it’s this combination museum of amazing art and architecture – including a huge sculptural playground for both kids and adults. It’s like being in Alice in Wonderland, I’m not kidding you. The art, the sculptures, the majestic caves; such an amazing place!

And sometimes St. Louis can get a bad rap like all big cities can for being unsafe and all that other jazz you hear about inner cities. So you don’t think Bob Cassilly, the founder of the City Museum, heard all that plus some when he had the courage to fight for his vision of the City Museum?

I can hear all of his nay sayers right now. “So wait Bob, you are going to buy a 600,000 square foot old shoe factory in downtown St Louis and turn it into a funhouse, playground, artistic, architectural, masterpiece museum? Wait now, what the heck are you doing? Let’s start from the top Bob.” Ha,ha. Can you hear it?

But if Bob wouldn’t have drew on his inner courage to follow his vision (no matter what anyone else was saying or despite any fear), we wouldn’t now have this magical place in the heart of downtown that brings so much joy and awe to both kids and grown ups alike!

Fight Off Fear to Let Your Talents Shine

So I’m drilling into this subject because I don’t want fear to paralyze you. You have so much to offer this world. I believe each person on this planet has amazing gifts to offer in their own unique way. But I also know how freaking powerful fear can be, so courage is absolutely needed to fight that bad boy off so you can let your true talents shine.

Fight or Flight?

Ok so how are we going to fight off this bad boy of fear? Well that’s actually the question. Are you actually going to fight for what you want?

We have a human condition called the fight or flight response; or it can also be called the stress response. American physiologist Dr. Walter Cannon came up with the fight or flight response to describe the chain of rapid reactions in our bodies which prepare mobilization in us to deal with threats. Fight or flight. We’ve all heard of it right? And we’ve all experienced it, I guarantee you.

Dr. Hans Selye then built on Cannon’s research and expanded on it. He came up with General Adaptation Syndrome or GAS. I know it sounds boring, but stay with me here because this is helpful.

So basically GAS says our bodies react to perceived threats or stressors with three stages. Fight or flight is the first stage of how our bodies react to a stressor or threat which is called the Alarm Stage.

So in the Alarm Stage, this is where we perceive the threat and our body kicks up in high alert and we get that crazy burst of hormones being rapidly released. Adrenaline starts pumping to prepare us to handle the threat. Our heart rate quickens, our breathing escalates and we may even start trembling. This is all because our central nervous system gets hit hard.

Our Bodies Are Designed To Help Us Win Success

In the alarm stage, our bodies are preparing us to either stand up and battle or run like like the wind. Either way, your body is getting you ready to perform to your maximum physical and mental capability. People may not particularly like this sensation because it is fear at its purest, rawest form. After all, you are seeing a clear and present threat or stressor which is why your body is reacting this way, make no bones about that.

But please appreciate this. You may not enjoy this feeling, but your body is actually boosting you up for maximize performance. Your body is getting you primed for go time baby. In other words, our bodies were created to automatically pump us up with courage in these situations.

Free Will

But as with everything in life, we still have a choice to make. Free will and the choice ultimately still belongs to you. You have the choice. Fight or flight?

So are you going to use your courage to fight for your goals and fight for what you want or not? Are you going to be that lion, be that lioness, and fight? Or are you going to run like the wind? Either way, you are primed for maximum performance for success.

So do you want to use your courageous power to succeed at reaching your vision or do you want to use it to run away?

Running Doesn’t Conquer Fear

Here’s the deal. You are going to still feel the fear either way, so I don’t know where you are running to? Running back to your comfort zone, back to comfy land, doesn’t take away fear. The fear is still there, so it’s not gone. Plus often times, now you have the new emotional buddy of regret hanging out with you along with your buddy fear. And regret’s a stage 5 clinger, just sayin’.

What Are These Perceived Threats?

So let’s talk about these threats or these stressors. So these are perceived threats or stressors, which means they don’t have to be real – like in the factual prove-in-the-court-of-law sense. If they are real to you though, then they are real right? That is why your body is reacting that way. I get that.

And just to be clear. I’m not talking about physical threats here. If you encounter a physical threat and your intuition (which is always your best guide don’t forget) tells you to run like like the wind. Run. Don’t question it, run. Get yourself out of there. I typically listen to flight when I get the intuitive feeling I’m under physical threat, and I sense I would easily be physically overpowered.

So I’m not talking about trying to fight a towering strong person when you are a physically smaller person if you don’t have to take on that fight and can choose flight instead. Escaping those situations seems wiser to me if you have that option.

Are Emotional Threats Really the Same as a 7-Foot Knife-Wielding Clown in Chase?

What I’m talking about are the perceived mental threats that throw you into fight or flight the same as physical threats do. These psychological threats are giving you the same fight or flight response as if a 7-foot beefed up circus man was chasing you with a clown mask and a shiny knife in hand. They may feel the same, but you have to get outside of your head and realize they are not the same!

The psychological threats and stressors are just your thoughts and emotions. So first of all, you have the absolute power to change them. And second of all, no thought or emotion is as scary as a 7 foot clown coming at you! Now come on.

What Are You Fighting For?

In order to have courage to go for what you want, you first have to know what you want. By now we’ve all raked the rut and did some goal digging and decided what we want, right?

Because to battle just to battle is a losing battle. You don’t want to be that person either. Apply your courage and your warrior energy toward positivity and achieving the results that you want in your life. But you have to know what you want in order to do that.

Get Clear and Get Courage

You are fighting for your goals and your vision; whether it be in your finances, your career, your personal life, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have to set your intentions and know what it is that you are fighting to achieve. Once you do that soul searching to know what you truly want, finding the courage within gets much easier.

Because think about it. It’s naturally going to be easier to find your courage and stand strong when you believe in what you are fighting for! So get clear. Get clear, and you will get your courage.

To Sum It Up

So according to the wondrous Wikipedia: Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Wiki got it right.

“A ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it’s built for.” Albert Einstein said that. And you are also not built for the shore my friends.

So draw from that inner strength and courage you possess inside of you and go get ‘em big cat! You can do it.

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