Infusing Your Life with Courage
This week in our Wisdom Note, we are exploring the final 6 of 12 trails of life that will infuse us with courage. Hiking these trails on your trek of life will help you become and remain much more courageous.
7. The Trail of Taking Bold Action
It takes courage to take bold action, but nothing changes if nothing changes. Have the guts to step boldly from your comfort zone to make the changes and take the chances that call you forward to fulfilling the potential within you. Courage allows you to trade procrastination and excuses for a commitment to being a person who is willing to do what it takes to live life abundantly. Whatever the risks you face on your trail of life, it is a much greater risk not to do anything.
8. The Trail of Perseverance
It takes courage to overcome the setbacks and failures that present themselves on the way to your goals, ambitions, and dreams. Perseverance and reaching those dreams is what brings the greatest sense of achievement. Face your challenges with a deep determination to stay the trail. When the trails become rough and the obstacles seem insurmountable, resist surrendering in the face of adversity. You can continue to climb, for any goal worth pursuing will require its share of determination and perseverance. Plug into the dreams and ambitions that make your spirit soar, and remember that it matters not that you reach the summit but that you had the guts to try. It is through perseverance in the face of adversity that the ordinary become extraordinary.
9. The Trail of Saying No
Sometimes we need the courage to say no to the good in order to make room for the great. Every time we say “yes” to a request or offering, we are automatically saying “no” to some other choice. However, finding the courage to say “no” first requires being clear about what you most want in life so you can say “yes” to the right choices. This practice will help you set boundaries in the midst of conflicting directions and requests. It will also teach people what you will and will not accept. Saying “no” when you need to may not be easy, but the price you pay for not doing so far exceeds any momentary discomfort.
10. The Trail of the Open Heart
It takes courage to be open to experiencing life’s pain as deeply as its joy, and yet this can be life’s richest fulfillment. Opening your heart fully to the depths of emotion that come with a life lived abundantly takes great courage, but it is the only way worth living life. It takes courage to let down your defenses and make yourself vulnerable to the anguish that life can sometimes bring so that you can experience the joy that comes from connecting with others openly, intimately, and compassionately. You need to learn to drop the barriers that are creating distance and isolating you from others. It is okay to reveal your humanity and make yourself available for others to know, to love, to care for, and to connect with. Nothing is more nurturing to the spirit.
11. The Trail of Letting Go
We all like to feel in control. However peace of mind only comes through giving your best to life. It takes courage to detach yourself from the outcome of your efforts, knowing that everything in life has a purpose. Put your faith in the wisdom that developed you. Have the courage to know that who you are is not defined by the outcome of your efforts. You need to trust that all you need at any moment to take on the challenges of life is already present in you. You will need to give up fighting what you cannot control, begin focusing on what you can control, and start living in the present moment. Finding the courage to let go will not impede your ability to achieve what you seek most from life. It will enhance it.
12. The Trail of Leading Others
Leadership is not a position; it’s a choice and courage to take action. Every day you have opportunities to be a leader. The essence of leadership is inspiring people to move in a direction they may otherwise not have gone, to impact others in a manner that will enable them to accomplish more than they would have otherwise, and to lead them to accomplish and to grow into someone they may otherwise not have become. By choosing the path of integrity, personal responsibility, and courage, you will automatically shine your light so brightly that it will reveal to others the splendor of their own. Ultimately only by living with courage and being the leader yourself will others find the courage to lead the world into a future filled with possibility. “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself,” Thomas Watson.
In our Wisdom Notes last week, we saw that Gideon was faced with fighting 135,000 trained warriors with only 300 men. How could Gideon muster up the courage to do so? Those are not good odds. God realized that Gideon would be very apprehensive as we pick up the story in Judges 8.
“The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon. That night the Lord said, ‘Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.’
So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count! Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, ‘I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!’
His companion answered, ‘Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!’
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, ‘Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!’ He divided the 300 men into three groups and gave each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch in it.
Then he said to them, ‘Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. As soon as I and those with me blow the rams’ horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’’
It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars. Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’
Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.”
What a victory! And, this is what courage can do for our lives. Look for ways this week where you can move forward against the odds with a life infused with courage.