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Count every choice of courage

Do you notice every time you choose courage?


Do you acknowledge and honor yourself every time you choose courage? Probably not.


I am constantly pointing out to my friends and clients how they are choosing courage in instances they did not recognize as such.


Recently, a friend told me, “I didn’t want to go to the party. But I went anyway. And I’m glad I did.”


I asked, “Why didn’t you want to go to the party?”


“I felt nervous about talking with people I didn’t know.”


“So you felt some fear in association with talking with new people. You chose to accept the fear and chose the courage to talk with them anyway, right? That inspires me.”


“You’re right. I didn’t think of it that way, but I was choosing courage without realizing it.”


Discounting the value of courage and the significance of acknowledging ourselves for it

Not only do we often fail to recognize the many opportunities for courage that we either take or don’t take throughout each day, but we also regularly dismiss most choices of courage with comments like, “It’s nothing to brag about.”

You give power to and strengthen what you notice and acknowledge

This lack of awareness and dismissive attitude constitute two major stumbling blocks in establishing the choice of courage as an integral and powerful part of your life.


Consider all of the following as possible/probable expressions of courage:


  • taking your spouse’s hand while shopping

  • asking someone, “What do you like best about yourself?”

  • saying “no” or “yes” to a party invitation

  • taking a minute to wash some dishes, rather than give into the internal pressure to skip over them for more important things

  • calling a friend to ask when they can return a book

  • calling a friend when you’re in a funk

  • doing something that you’ve been avoiding

  • smiling at a stranger you pass on the street

  • driving more slowly

  • asking for help in a department store

  • asking for a refund

  • telling your child how much you admire them

  • establishing and maintaining an important boundary with someone

  • keeping silent instead of advising your son/daughter/friend/co-worker

  • saying “no” to a friend’s loan request

  • throwing a party

  • initiating a conversation with someone

  • scheduling a vacation

  • sharing a feeling of hurt or loneliness

  • doing physical exercise

  • looking at the big picture and direction of your life

  • placing or responding to an ad on the Internet

  • trying something even though you’ll probably do it poorly

  • turning off the TV and calling a friend

  • planning your day

  • setting up a budget

  • declining an invitation from someone who is attracted to you, but you have no interest in them

  • getting out of bed in the morning


Unrecognized and acknowledged courage is not full courage

Full courage includes all four steps or components: making friends with the fear, honoring yourself for the courage you're about to choose, taking the action, and re-honoring yourself for the courage you just chose, regardless of the outcome.

The strength that builds when we include all four steps of choosing courage

When we create some consistency in recognizing and taking advantage of the smaller opportunities for courage, we create results and a solid sense of confidence and self-esteem.


Step by step builds the power

We also pave the road for making the larger opportunities for courage seem like real possibilities in our lives, rather than opportunities that we either avoid or fail to recognize.


Remember the simple adage: "Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard."


By applying this simple principle to the most important choices in your life, the choices of courage, you will make more difference for yourself and others than with any other life-guiding principle.


Be vigilant for the small opportunities for courage. Count each one that you recognize today.


Breathe into the fear. Celebrate the opportunity. Take the action.

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