In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, one of the characters accompanying Dorothy to see the Great Oz is the Cowardly Lion. Born without courage, the Cowardly Lion joins Dorothy, Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman on their journey with the hope that Oz would give him what he always lacked, remarking
“…my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage.”
It seems appropriate that Courage is the first Leadership Trait of the Week since this is the week Carpe Juvenis launched. Launching this website has required risk-taking and courage, and while it isn’t always easy to block out the negative voices in your head, it’s important to keep moving forward to get to a place of confidence. When we feel nervous or have self-doubts, these are the 12 words of encouragement that keeps us going…
1. Stand up for what you believe in. There’s a lot of peer pressure out there, and whether it comes from friends or family, always remember that you have the final choice. You have the ultimate power to stand up for what you think is right, wrong, or somewhere in the middle. Even if no one else agrees with you, listen to your heart and stand up for your beliefs. To us that’s pretty courageous.
2. Make decisions. At the end of the day, making a choice and following through is courageous in itself. Choosing one thing and sticking to it can be pretty scary, especially when the other option is also enticing. By deciding what to do and making a choice, you are taking a bold step in a certain direction.
3. Speak what is on your mind. Don’t just stand up for what you believe in, but speak those thoughts. Get others involved, share your feelings and experiences, and voice the words you sometimes feel too shy to say.
4. Listen to others. Sometimes having courage doesn’t mean speaking your mind, but instead it requires having the courage to not talk and listen. This is especially courageous when you are determined to let others know what you think. Listening is pretty powerful.
5. Try something new. When you are on the verge of doing something new, it might be a little exciting and scary. It takes courage to do something you’ve never done before, but trying new things is a great way to practice being bold and fearless.
6. Forget perfection. The fear of not doing something perfectly can be so paralyzing that it prevents us from taking the first step. Once you accept that no one can be perfect, you will have a little more courage in making a move.
7. Take risks. Taking risks will always be a little scary. Exhilarating, but definitely nerve-wracking. In order to take risks, you’ll need courage to back you up. It takes courage to take that first leap, but the outcome can be so great. No risks, no reward.
8. Acknowledge your weaknesses. There’s nothing more powerful than acknowledging your weaknesses. Why? Because once you know where your weaknesses are can you start to improve. You can get stronger. Don’t kid yourself about your abilities, you’ll only be hurting yourself. Admitting what you can improve is not only incredibly courageous, but it will help you become more courageous, as you can take the proper steps to become even better and stronger.
9. Imagine the aftermath. If you are nervous about failing or the consequences of what will happen in a certain situation, close your eyes and imagine the aftermath of the event. When you visualize something in your mind, you gain a little more confidence and courage to actually take those steps. If you can imagine it, you can do it. Whether what you imagined actually happens or not, you have mentally prepared enough to build up courage.
10. Block out the negative voices. You know those voices in the back of your mind saying you can’t do something? Yeah, we’ve had those too. They sneak in when you least expect it and give you doubts about your abilities. It can be incredibly difficult to push those thoughts out of your mind, but practice blocking them out and spinning them into positive words of encouragement. You are the only one holding yourself back. Once you push out the negative voices, it will feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
11. Control what you can, release the rest. One of the greatest feelings is realizing that you can’t control everything, even though that realization can be a little terrifying. Understand what is in your control, and let go of the rest. Don’t worry about things you have no power over. What you do have control over is your actions and ability to take steps in a direction that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and be courageous.
12. Never give up. Learning how to have courage is a gradual process, and is one that requires patience. You might not immediately be able to face your fears or say something that you feel, but don’t give up on yourself. Keep moving forward and eventually you will overcome what is holding you back.
How are you courageous?