“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” my friend Jana asked me over a year ago. (She actually recorded a song with that same title and performs many other wonderful motivational songs). I answered, “I’d have fun in Italy and teach a women’s retreat there, but…. how would I do that?” When I asked one of my client’s the same question, he said, “I’d take more risks in my business, but… I might fail.”
Listen to the words that follow your ‘but’. They reveal your doubts and limiting beliefs. This is the pivotal point from which you take courage to leap, or at least walk through the flame of fear.
Over the years, I’ve asked people about their courage. They seemed so confident and together. Usually they say that they’re afraid but they just make themselves take the baby steps needed to do the task.
That’s why I’m inspired by what Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear…”
I started skiing when I was 43 years old and I’ve never really lost the fear of speed or of getting hurt. I just do it to be social and to hang out with my friends, kids and husband. When I told my husband I was too afraid to really enjoy it, he said ‘that fear is part of the excitement and fun.’ Being afraid is not my idea of fun, but I kind of know what he means. Courage can be fragile. It does not mean being fearless.
I’m more like a reluctant adventurer in life. I ease out of my comfort zone, but contract for longer times than I expand, like a turtle who tucks her head neatly inside her shell, then sticks her neck out and moves out of the water, slowly crawling through the sand, knowing that her destiny is to lay eggs every 30 days, only to return to the sea for a month of frolicking in the warm Costa Rican waters.
I think change requires courage, maybe fragile courage. Otherwise, how could we leave our security to try something different? Like the turtle, we don’t know exactly how or if our actions will be rewarded.
The turtle doesn’t know if the eggs she lays will be taken by the locals for their dinner, or by animals on the beach, but she sees the moon beams and knows that change is calling out like a wounded friend who needs her. The strings of change pull our hearts and we swim, walk, drag our limp legs, and claw our way toward hope, waiting, wanting more and carrying the fear on our hardened shells that cover our tender hearts.
When we conjure up the notion of fragile courage, the slow moving turtle may not be the power animal that comes to mind, but I think she’s very brave to stick her neck out and move.
What would you do this year if YOU weren’t afraid? Can you do something every week that you’re scared to do?
May your new year be filled with all possibilities as you walk through your fragile courage and fears!
You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.