While most of us would agree that courage and bravery are positive qualities, many people would not use these words to describe themselves. Most people are still too afraid to live the life they truly want — afraid of taking risks, of failing, of being disappointed or of what others might think.
However, everyone has the ability to live courageously. As the Wizard of Oz tells the Cowardly Lion in L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s story, “You know, of course, that courage is always inside one.”
So what is courageous living? How do you know if you are living courageously?
Courage Starts Inside
Courageous living is our innate ability to take a stand for the future we want to have and then allow that vision to begin to shape our priorities, choices, behavior and actions.
Courageous living starts with who we’re being. We must be willing to think for ourselves, to make decisions that are true to us regardless of social norms and what other people think, to dream our dreams, to believe in ourselves, and to take a stand for what we want.
It’s believing: Yes, I can achieve my goals and dreams. Yes, I can be as rich or successful as I want. Yes, I can have the family and the love that I want. Yes, I can live where I want.
Decades ago, after my wife and I had our second child, Eden, we decided to emigrate from Israel. Professionally I was doing OK there, but it was a small pond, and the prospects for success were limited. Wanting to build a better life for our family, we moved to North America. Our original plan was to live in the United States, where we had friends, but we ended up in Canada because of visa requirements.
That was a very scary period for my wife and I. We didn’t know anybody. We had two young kids, and I was away from home 80 percent of the time during that first year developing my career and building the prospects for our future success. Then, after a few years of working in a company where I wasn’t fully satisfied and didn’t feel that I could fulfill my dreams, I decided to start my own business.
That really required courage. I was terrified that I would not be able to provide for my family. I had many sleepless nights questioning my decision of giving up my safety net. There was no guarantee. But I had a vision of my life that required us to take some risks and make a stand for what we believed was possible. And we never looked back!
Courage Takes Many Forms
Courageous living doesn’t just apply to the big, life-changing decisions — such as whether to leave a safe job and start your own company or whether to leave an unhappy marriage. It’s also important to take a courageous stand for the little things we want out of life.
For example, my wife has a very busy schedule. She runs some of our businesses, raises our kids and manages our household. She is an amazing wife, mother and professional. She patiently and generously takes care of everyone around her, including me. She is also a very talented artist — but her busy life has previously kept her from doing what she enjoys for her self-expression. So, several months ago, she made a decision to dedicate one day each week to her art, regardless of everything else that is on her plate.
Courageous living could mean making time for your hobbies or for exercise and not neglecting “you.” It could mean quitting smoking, learning a new skill, applying for a job you’re not exactly “qualified” for, or simply deciding that you will find a way to attend your child’s soccer games.
Living courageously simply means that you take a stand for what you want in life — however big or small — and you stick with it, no matter what.
Join the Conversation
Please share your views about what courageous living means for you. What have you achieved or overcome in your life — big, small or medium — that took independent thinking and courageous living?