The Profound Importance of Courage

December 21, 2013

Why do people watch American Idol? Is it to see amazing talent? We could turn on public broadcasting and see amazing talent…

Is it for the competition? TV is full of exciting game shows…

Is it to see people’s dreams come true? It’s not that.

It’s about courage. The reason people watch American Idol is to see courage in action.

You think public speaking is hard? How about public singing? Now do it a cappella. No band to back you up, no rhythm section to create a groove, it’s just you and space. It takes a lot of courage to be on American Idol, and that’s why millions of people tune in. Courage is captivating.

Go to an open mic and see this for yourself. There is one sentence that will get everyone in the audience to put away their phones and pay attention.

“This is her first time playing in front of people”

That is exciting! Chances are if it’s this person’s first time playing in front of a crowd they may not amaze people with their talent yet we will gladly stop and witness someone who is about to demonstrate courage.

You see, that’s why we do it. That’s why we risk our security, our safety and our piece of mind. We do it for the magic that gets created when we step outside our comfort zone and into the unknown. We take a leap of faith, because the truth is, we aren’t ready for it, yet we take that step anyway.

What’s Your Excuse?

I encourage a lot of people to share their art on stage. From musicians to poets to dancers, I love to encourage people to not die with their art still in them. What do you think is the most common response I get?

“I can’t”

You can’t? That’s perfect.

You see, I’m like the millions of people who watch American Idol, and I’m not interested in you doing something you think you can do. I’m interested in seeing what you think you can’t do.

I’m here for the magic. I’m here to be inspired. Do you want to know the other common excuse?

“I’m not ready”

You aren’t ready?

What makes you think that you’ll ever be “ready” to bear your soul and step out in front of a crowd and show courage? You won’t. This isn’t chicken casserole and nothing needs to be “ready” before you call everyone to dinner. The whole point is you aren’t ready, and that’s why people won’t be able to take their eyes off you. That’s why it doesn’t matter how “good” you are or how many right or wrong notes you think you hit, people aren’t there to see your talent, they are there to witness your courage.

The Quality of Your Spirit

Courage is defined in the dictionary is a quality of spirit which enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear.

What is the quality of your spirit in the face of fear?

You see, most of us are waiting for the right time to be courageous, but that line of thinking is misguided. Courage has never happened in the future, it only happens now and it’s never comfortable, because the very nature of courage is that it only exists when there is fear present.

It’s like being vulnerable. You can’t become comfortable being vulnerable, because vulnerability by it’s very nature is digging into the parts of you that you don’t want to look at. If you all of a sudden become comfortable with those parts, they no longer produce the result of you being vulnerable.

So are we sentenced to a life of discomfort?

In my experience, there is good news.

When we train ourselves to feel the fear and lean in, instead of pull back, we find ourselves much more accepting of fear. We can actually look forward to fear, if we really understand that it’s where the magic is.

People who we refer to as courageous have developed a habit of acting quickly and decisively in the face of fear. We call them courageous, and what’s more true is they have trained themselves to not wallow in fear and anxiety.

You can do this too, there is no secret formula. The next time you find yourself frozen by fear, consider that this is your moment to demonstrate courage. Take a breath, then act. Even if it’s a small action, that is ok. The next time you can face a bigger fear, and a bigger fear, and a bigger fear. Pretty soon you have trained your mind to not get caught up in fear, but rather act in the fact of it. You’ll be leaning in to fear instead of away from it.

How big is your comfort zone right now? What is outside your comfort zone that if you could go there, would make all the difference?

Not ready + Don’t Think You Can + Courage = Magic


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