Courage is such a huge word, it brings about many emotions as it reaches our lips.
Courage is such a necessary component to living life well and be able to live the life we were designed to live. Just the definition is enough to make us take a step backwards sometimes, one definition is “the ability to do something that frightens one.”
But remember the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz? I love that movie. This is the end part of the original book where we realise the Lion was courageous all along…
“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”
To be able to be courageous is to be able to live life to the full, not letting other people hold you back or letting your own self-doubts hold you back. To be courageous we have to overcome the fear of being vulnerable, vulnerability is something we instinctively like to avoid and yet courage is impossible without it. That’s the whole point of courage, it takes us through our vulnerability and puts us on the other side as a victor.
There is a very real tension between vulnerability and courage, you simply cannot have one without the other.
We all love to think we are courageous however the strange thing is, most people think they can achieve this without being vulnerable because vulnerability makes us feel so uncomfortable. I have learnt through life that you can’t have courage without vulnerability, courage is not needed unless you are in a position that requires vulnerability.
Brene Brown, the New York Times bestselling author says this, “You can’t get courage without rumbling with vulnerability…Embrace the suck.” I love her approach to this truth, if we are to be courageous and to develop courage within our children, we have to embrace the “suck” and we have to teach our children to embrace it, not remove it to make them feel better. I am not sure if we ever lose our fear of vulnerability, even after we have embraced it and appreciated it many times, if we are honest it is still scary at times.
I don’t feel comfortable at times when I know as a leader in our company, I need to have a strong conversation with someone and if I am not careful, I can avoid the vulnerability and put off what I know needs to be said because I am fearful of that person being hurt.
I have learnt that if I don’t have that conversation, I am actually causing more pain for that person and potentially others around them. Vulnerability is a very powerful instrument for good and it produces courage as much as it takes courage to engage with it. Our ability to succeed in life is very much dependent on being prepared to live in that space of vulnerability.
Courage and vulnerability go hand in hand, if we are to live a life of courage in all areas of life, we have to learn how to be vulnerable and do it well. To be able to be vulnerable we have to be confident in who we are, what our values and belief systems are and why we have those systems within.
Everyone has value and belief systems even if we aren’t aware of them and they are core to our self-confidence and our identity. As we as parents and grandparents demonstrate courage, our descendants learn how to be courageous.
When we show our children their value to us, they will be courageous enough to be vulnerable with us and start to master vulnerability by learning how to have courage. They will experiment and see how far their limits can go, they will learn to fail and get up and go again, this time filled with courage.
Don’t avoid being vulnerable.
Remembering the power of vulnerability, unfortunately, we tend to think we are losing control when we are vulnerable, but I actually think we gain more control. Self-control is the most powerful form of control and to have self-control we will usually be in a place of vulnerability which requires huge courage.
It’s very interesting thinking these issues through, let me know what you think, give it a go and enjoy developing your own courage and courage within your children.