15 Oct How Courage Shows Up – Angel’s Story
The horrific shooting rampage in Las Vegas shone the light on amazing acts of heroism and courage. In times of challenge, people step up to the plate and without thinking behave in ways that are brave and selfless. We honor and celebrate them as they so deserve.
But what about all the unnoticed inspiring acts of courage that occur every day? These acts have an important impact on our society, yet are disregarded – not just by others but even by the heroes that perform them.
What is courage?
According to Merriam Webster dictionary courage is defined as:
mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
That can cover a whole range of actions or behaviors, yet we relate courage to those lifesaving acts of heroism or to the day to day lives of police officers and firefighters.
Recently, I had the honor of meeting a young woman (Angel is not her real name) who served 6 – 6 (six year and six months) in prison. To pass the time she would play cards and hang out with other inmates.
ATHENA International was bringing their leadership program into the prison and Angel’s first thought was “I can’t attend that because it’s the same time as my card game”. When she started thinking about what her life would look like after she got out, she realized that becoming a professional card player wasn’t “in the cards”. She realized that this ATHENA program may be something she should attend.
At the first meeting, she – like all the other women present – sat with their arms defensively crossed in front of their chest. You know what that looks like, the “so what can YOU teach me” position. After a few classes, she realized that she had being given a gift – something that will help her transform her life.
For this woman, taking the step to show up at the first class, and come back every week took courage. She didn’t know how she would be treated by the other in-mates. She didn’t let this stop her.
Angel is now out of prison, in a stable job and loving relationship. She is working every day to stay on track. She fights her old habits and compulsions that still lurk within her. In our short time together, I realized that for some people just showing up every day in their life is a great act of courage. This is this type of courage needs to be celebrated too!
How can we celebrate courage?
We can’t celebrate what we don’t know. When is the last time you defined what courage looks like for you and shared it with others? Do you realize what acting courageously feels like? For me, if I need to act courageously for my family, friends or clients, it’s a mindless act. I don’t think about the consequences or the potential risks. I just jump in and do it. However, when it’s acting courageous for myself; I feel the butterflies; I know all the pitfalls and risks and the voices in my head try to convince me to keep the status quo. Now I know that When I take those courageous steps, I need to acknowledge myself and praise my actions.
I’d like to ask everyone reading this post to:
- Take some time to define what courage look like for you
- Notice the stories you have about yourself and start writing a new story so you can take courageous steps that don’t feel as scary
- Talk to others about their stories of courage, because they will inspire you
- Celebrate yourself regularly because even if you don’t realize it yet, you are magnificently courageous!