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Lonnette Harrell

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.” Harold Wilson

Courage–do you think you possess it? It means having the strength to resist danger, fear, or hardship. I think it also means being able to keep your spirits up, as you face difficulties. It’s more than just opposing something with resolution and persistence. It’s having the fortitude to look something ominous in the eye, and say, “I will overcome this, and my spirit will not be broken in the process.”

Courage has gotten many people through serious illness, through the devastating loss of loved ones, through physical and emotional threats, and through life’s greatest challenges.

Bravado is not bravery. Bravado is the pretense of courage–a false show of bravery. Bravado beats its chest like a phony Tarzan, parading with pride. But true heroes are probably most often scared inside, and yet they rise to the occasion. When it’s on behalf of others, they do it for love. Think of the firemen that went into the Twin Towers on 9/11. They were most probably frightened, but the call of duty, and their desire to help others, was stronger than their fear. And the passengers on the plane that decided to fight the hijackers, rather than let them crash the plane into the Capitol or the White House. Yes, they were fighting for their lives, but also the lives of the other passengers, and the lives of the people on the ground that might be killed and injured in such a crash. We’ve all heard the stories of a soldier taking a bullet for a buddy, or throwing his body on live ammunition, to save his comrades. I think these heroic acts prove what I’ve always known was true–courage is not the absence of fear, but moving forward in the face of fear. I like what John Wayne (an all-American hero) said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” Courage is facing things in spite of our fears.

But courage is not just for soldiers, firemen, and policemen. Each one of us have faced struggles, that required us to do something in the midst of fear. We all have our own fears–fear of failure, fear of physical pain, fear of emotional pain, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation, fear of dying, and even fear of living. Let’s be honest-life requires courage. Are brave people ever afraid? Most certainly–they just don’t let those feelings paralyze them.

If you have ever overcome your fears, and achieved something that was scary, and seemed impossible, then you know the good feelings such action brings. It gives us determination to face the next trial with courage.

Eleanor Roosevelt had it right when she said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

So many things that we’re convinced we cannot do, we’ve never even tried. We have talked ourselves into a life of dreary routine, taking little risks, and achieving little, as a result. When did we forget that life is an adventure, not something to endure? Facing our fears and taking chances can lead to growth. It takes courage to realize our potential, and even if we experience failure, we have the satisfaction of knowing we tried. Who wants to look back on their life, and know that it could have been more fulfilling, if we had just been brave enough to try something we’ve always feared? We must come to the place where our fear of staying the same, is much greater, than our fear of changing. That’s when we’ll gain the courage to try something different.

I love what Steve Pavlina wrote in his article, The Courage To Live Consciously. He admonished, “Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be.”

What about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’re afraid? Something you’ve always wanted to be, but you’re frightened by failure? Take a risk–take a chance. Go ahead. What have you really got to lose? But what a loss you will suffer, if you go your whole lifetime, and don’t realize your deepest dreams. You can make it happen. Start with one small step, and then another, and another. Move toward your goal in steady progression, and reformulate your dreams if necessary. It’s not too late. You can do it. You can face those fears, and be a hero. All it takes is your will, and a little bit of courage…


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