“What good are wings without the courage to fly?” – Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) Click here to Tweet This!
Harper Lee’s quote in her classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird is an excellent reminder that we all have opportunities to be incredible, but we need to have the courage to take them.
What is Courage?
So, what is courage? It’s so difficult to define isn’t it? More importantly, it’s difficult to be brave in situations where you fear the unknown, or lack the confidence to carry on.
Well, I think courage is relative and depends on what you are afraid of.
Take this example:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that another friend thought that people who lived abroad, started over, moved countries were “really brave”. Now, maybe “adventurous” would come to mind as an adjective, but brave? For me, moving has just been a part of my life the last five years. However, for someone who classified this as unknown and scary territory, sure, it could be seen as courageous.
Well, how do you feel about being different? In a world still peppered with bullies in schools and at the workplace, standing out is not always outstanding. Personally, I learned as a child to not really care what others think, and to be my own person.
There are two steps to do this:
First, focus on your own self-development. What kind of person do you want to be? How can you get there?
Second, slowly start to surround yourself with people with similar goals. I’ll admit that it can take a lot of time to attract the right people in your life, but once you do, it feels like magic. You can be who you are, without fearing social consequences.
Now I’m not saying that fends off the bullies, but it sure does make you feel better about yourself, right?
The Courage To Stand Up For Your Rights
So, in my opinion, this is one of the most important reasons for courage, and the most difficult. Why?
Well, it’s simple:
People who want to oppress rights are another type of bully. Also, their actions are not logical, but emotional, so standing up to them is often a fight.
Look what’s happening here in Barcelona:
So, here in Barcelona, the last few days have been a whirlwind of political events. In case you haven’t seen the news, police have been violently attacking peaceful people trying to cast their votes in an independence referendum.
Now, I don’t want this blog to become too political, but I am going to say that I hope Spain and Catalonia can work things out. In fact, I think leaving the EU would be a financial and economic disaster, and the process to “re-enter” the union doesn’t seem simple.
When I ask my students about this, they say that Catalonia “can handle it”, and that even though it may take 5 years or more to get back into the EU, it’ll be worth it. So, I’m a bit nervous for the future here…
I’ll also admit that I didn’t vote yesterday (I’m not so sure I could have done as a foreigner, but wow, do I applaud those who risked the violence to do so)
Human Rights Heroes
Think about this:
There are some people who exemplify a universal definition of courage. I’d like to call these people human rights heroes – those defending the rights of minorities around the world. People like Nelson Mandela, Malala and others who risk their lives to fight for fairness, equality and human rights.
(Sidenote: Did you hear that Malala will be attending Oxford, at Lady Margaret Hall, the same college I went to? It makes sense that she’d be in that hall, as it was the first to accept women at Oxford back in the day. The students there now are so lucky to be able to meet her!).
If you remember my email right after the Barcelona terror attacks in September, I was inspired to start a “Diversity and Tolerance” series of lesson plans. Now, I’ve only got the first one up (on Malala), in the September section of my free printables library, but more are on the way.
3 Ways To Be More Courageous
1. Take Risks
So, when was the last time you took a risk with something important in your life? Maybe you’d like to try something new, but are a bit scared? Press on! Find some role models who have done what you’d like to do, and ask them for advice.
Hiring a coach or trainer can work wonders, too. In fact, after 2 months or swimming lessons with a private swim coach, and an extra month of practice, I finally feel like I’m not afraid of the water. Now, I took a lot of swimming lessons as a child, but as I detested the sport and not being able to see in the water with my myopia, I had clearly blocked any training on how to swim properly. Now? I’m starting to love gliding through the water!
2. Learn To Let Go
Now, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite suggesting this one, because it’s the one I struggle with. Learning to breathe and let go of parts of life you can’t control is a challenge for me. Do you have any tips? Share with me in the comments below!
Okay, then, you say, that’s not revolutionary. Of course you have to act to create change. I’ll remind you here of Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule. So, the rule suggests that when you have the impulse to do something, you have 5 seconds to actually do it before your brain kicks into “emergency brake” mode.
You can watch her TED Talk on it here: (It’s only 5 minutes, watch it!)
Want more great ideas? Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution’s article is a great place to start.
Well, I hope that today’s short and sweet post provides a good start to your week! How have you been courageous lately? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below (I reply to every post).
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. I took the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Salou, Spain last spring
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