Core Values: Could You Use More Courage?
Core Values: Could You Use More Courage?
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin to Pooh, ~ A.A. Milne
Courage is defined by Dictionary.com as:
1. noun : the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
2. idiom: have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.
I require each of my clients to take a core values assessment before we begin working together. I find that by focusing on and staying in alignment with our core values, it’s both easier and more rewarding to design a new vision and plan for our lives. I also created a deck of Core Values cards for my clients featuring 52 different values. I thought I would spend some time over the next few weeks talking about individual core values: how they can impact your your life, how they have impacted mine and some journaling ideas for working with core values.
Core Values are the Guide Posts by which we make decisions
I am just back from three weeks of vacation and finding myself needing courage to get through the many details of my life from groceries and laundry, to work and volunteer duties. Oh yeah, and getting kids back to school. Part of me wants to disappear into my craft room for a week and just make art. So I turned to my deck of core values cards and asked for guidance. Courage was the card I selected.
I appreciated how Dictionary.com defined courage as a “quality of mind or spirit.” Without courage to sustain us, most of us would never take action. We might spend our lives buried in our homes, stuck in dead-end relationships or pursuing meaningless careers. Courage does not equal fearlessness. Fear is a great motivator. Courage allows us to move through our fears, to make difficult choices and take specific actions that we know will be difficult, challenging, and at times painful. The origins of the word “courage” stem from the word heart. Embracing the energy and power of the heart to move through fear is the core of courage as a value.
Courage appears when we need it
There have been a few times in my life that courage got me through. In college I spent a summer in Spain, traveling and studying with a group of students from my university. A friend and I were returning to our hotel when a man tried to yank her backpack off of her back and run away with it. Some swell of courage rose in me that I did not know that I had. I grabbed one side of the backpack and refused to let go. It had her passport in it, not to mention money and other important things. The man kept yelling, “cigarillo, cigarillo” over and over which is Spanish for cigarette. We finally managed to grab a pack of cigarettes out of her backpack, toss it to the man and pull away from him (yes, we all smoked that summer in Spain…) I felt so strong in the moment, it wasn’t until we got back to the hotel, which was less than a block away, that I started to shake and realize what had happened. Many of us have stories of being courageous in the face of imminent danger. There are so many stories of moms lifting cars off their children and other amazing feats of inhuman strength. That well of courage lives within us and we can learn to tap into it when we need it.
It takes courage of a different kind to build a strong, open relationship with a loved one or with our children. We have to be willing to be vulnerable, to share our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it feels simpler to rescue our child from a burning building than to have a difficult conversation with our spouse, a friend, or our boss.
Courage comes in all forms, we have to be willing to embrace it, step through fear and face change. I am not saying this is easy. There have been times in my life when I should have made changes much sooner than I did and I let apathy or fear stop me. I stayed in a town and a business that were draining me for way too long, yet it was hard to yank myself and my family away. When we did manage to make the dramatic changes we had talked about for years, our life became so much better! But it was hard to see that at the beginning of our journey.
As you meditate today on where you are in your life and contemplate the artwork on the Courage card above, take a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions (I encourage you to write down the answers in your journal!)
1. When in my life have I shown courage? Make a list and celebrate your success. When you need to tap into courage, revisit this list to remind you that you can be courageous.
2. When in my life have I failed to show courage and regretted it?
3. In what areas of my life would I like to have more courage right now? Consider your personal and professional lives.
4. For one or more of those areas, what one action could you take that would move you forward?
5. What’s stopping you from taking that action?
6. What will happen if you don’t make a decision or if you do?
7. Who can you ask for help and moral support?
I think one of the most courageous acts any of us undertake is learning to ask for help. We do not have to go through life, challenges, fear and change alone. Sometimes it takes courage just to ask. Here is the back side of the courage card with an affirmation for you to sit with if it feels right for you.
True courage is accepting responsibility for the state in which we find ourselves and changing it when we realize that we don’t like who we are or where we are at any given moment. Working with our core values can help us be more attuned to what we need. Values mark our path throughout life. The person who lives a values-based life walks in security and safety, seeing their path unfold before them. Join me back here again tomorrow for another reflection on core values.