Better than a hundred years lived in idleness and in weakness is a single day of life lived with courage and powerful striving. The Dhammapada
This is for the courageous. For the courageous who, sometimes, feel anything but. The courageous for whom a hundred years lived in idleness might, on occasion, sound like a blessed relief.
Because we tend to forget that, truth be told, showing up day after day as our authentic and vulnerable selves can be exhausting.
As one of my four coaching principles (together with curiosity, creativity, and challenge), our ability to embody courage (as a leader, as a human being) is of particular interest. I’m curious as to how courage manifests in the physical, the intellectual, and the emotional sphere. And how we avoid ‘burn out’ by resourcing ourselves in a sustainable fashion.
Think about the language we have inherited: we summon up or muster courage; we draw on reserves of courage; our courage deserts us; our courage can be defeated. What does this embattled imagery tell us about our historical understanding of courage… other than it being a predominantly masculine affair? It is an unforgiving narrative of strength and weakness; of success and failure. A courageous life does not mean fighting battles every day.
If you are committed to living courageously, rather than isolated acts of courage, you might prefer the more sustainable metaphor of courage as a natural or organic resource: we dig deep and unearth our courage; we pluck up courage (from a place of growth); and we renew our courage. Courage is valuable and sometimes elusive; it is not finite, but it needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Anyone has the potential to access this resource and there is no implicit value judgement.
The courageous life is multifaceted. It is speaking your own truth and living your life with purpose and integrity; it is trusting yourself and, perhaps even more challenging, trusting others; and it is exploring your edges, moving through your fear, and embracing not knowing.
So for the courageous who, sometimes, feel anything but… do not despair. Take heart. This is a day of life lived with courage. Courage and powerful striving must not always go hand in hand; for courage can be peaceful, forgiving, and humble.