Courage. It originally comes from the Latin word Cor meaning heart.
Living with courage is living with all your heart. It’s living out your dreams in spite of the presence of doubt and fear; willing to risk failure in order to be true to yourself and the authentic person God created you to be.
Author, Piers Anthony says this about courage:
“Being terrified but going ahead and doing what must be done—that’s courage. The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward.”
God told Joshua to be courageous. This wasn’t just a pep talk from the Lord to bolster confidence. God was calling Joshua to shift his thinking from defeat to victory; to change the narrative in his mind from one of cowardice to bravery. In other words, God told Joshua, “Choose courage!”
That’s right. Courage is not just an emotion that comes to a select few. We can all choose courage despite the feelings of fear and timidity.
They key is in the shift.
Many people have the habit of focusing on the negative side of any challenge or opportunity. They start an inner dialogue, telling themselves all the reasons why “this isn’t going to work.” Their focus is on what will go wrong and what they stand to lose. No wonder many are paralyzed from taking action to live out their dream.
But when we shift, we change our perspective from what we stand to lose to what we stand to gain. The shift is to focus on the outcome, the reward. Courage then, rises up within us. It is the result of right thinking. The courageous choice is made easier, when we tell ourselves the right story.
A pursuit of bravery and courage is one that says, “I don’t want to lose out on life’s opportunities because I’m afraid. I don’t want to be limited and live contained; rather I want to be an over-comer – living bold and courageous. I want to develop the skill of facing my fear, and experience the thrill of being triumphant not trumped.”
“What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage!” — Cowardly Lion, Wizard of Oz
I believe God has important goals for us all to reach, but like Joshua we will have to be very strong and courageous to apprehend God’s purpose for our life. Conquering fear then seems critical to our assignment.
And it can be done. Living from our whole heart – courageously – may not be comfortable at first, but as we choose to confront the thing we’re afraid of, we will discover we can stand as champion over it.
Here are a few pointers:
- Name Your Fear
Admit and acknowledge your fear. Ask yourself, “What specifically am I afraid of”?
Be precise in defining the fear you struggle with. When fear is evaluated and named, it is contained and we discover that the thing we dread has limits.
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Mark Twain
- Act, even when your afraid
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
None of us can be totally free from the emotion of fear. It comes to all of us, flying over our heads like a bird in flight. But we do get to choose if we are going to let fear build a nest in our head and peck away at our brains.
Feelings of fear are a part of the human experience, and sometimes serve a good purpose. But don’t wait to take steps of action until you have NO fear.
- Focus on the Win
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” — Lord Chesterfield
How would the quality of your life improve if you faced each day with courage? What would you accomplish? What is your desired destination? What do you want to achieve? Define the win and focus on what you will gain not lose.
- Show Up
Courage comes as we make the right choice and small steps compounded overtime result in success. Sometimes all you can do is show up. Don’t think about it—just do it. Often we overthink a problem and it elevates our uneasiness. Instead just take a step forward—show up and the rest will unfold.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” — Mary Anne Radmacher
Remember, courage determines the perimeters of your life.
How big do you want to live?