Build Your Leaders

Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category

Facing Fear

February 2nd, 2012

Do you usually say yes to life’s invitations? Monhegan Island, Maine, could be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, yet when a friend asked me to hike its rocky cliffs my first response was to say no.

Whatever the question, no is often my immediate response.

Do you want to take a walk?

How about a bike ride by the river?

What would you think about checking out that new museum?

It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction on my part, but when I dig a little deeper, I discover fear. There’s a thin layer of fear that surrounds almost every new experience. When I name, feel, and face it, fear loses its intensity, and I find the courage to say yes.

I go on the walk, take a bike ride, or visit the museum, and I’m almost always rewarded. I see a beautiful vista, feel the pride of accomplishment, or learn something new.

Taking the path of least resistance leads to complacency. It may be safe, but the scenery seldom changes. When I get off my butt, face my fears, and just do it, I fuel the engines that energize my life.

When life issues an invitation I am learning to consider saying yes before no. Life is most likely offering me a lovely present, but I need to show up to receive it.

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Welcoming Uninvited Guests

November 6th, 2010

When bad things happen. When a client comes into Jungian analyst Robert Johnson’s office with a problem so big it feels like it will break the client’s back, Johnson offers to take half of the burden. That’s an offer most clients are eager to accept.

Johnson explains, “The half that I take off is the rebellion against the process, the situation as it is.” Once he or she stops struggling, half the burden dissipates. All that’s left is the half that remains.

To stop struggling may seem counterintuitive. The American way is to fight. Surrender is for sissies. Yet when we fight the difficult situations that arise in our lives, we turn our lives into battlefields. We only magnify the burden. More often than not, the situation will pass in time.

Sometimes, bad situations don’t pass. Like invited guests, problems linger. My friend Bill Petz knows this all too well; he has Parkinson’s disease. Recently, he wrote a beautiful piece for his church that he appropriately titled, “Uninvited Guest.”

He wrote:

“I’ve chosen to see my Parkinson’s disease as just that, an invited guest in my body and in my life. Given that perspective, I feel that I am bound by the ancient code of hospitality that dictates that I must welcome the stranger, be a good host, and provide for the guest. The guest, in turn, is bound not to abuse the welcome offered by the host. Such welcoming creates understanding, mutual benefit, and compassion.”

Bill believes that we are called to become the person we were born to be, and that means accepting whatever comes along in life. The good and the bad.

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Just Do It!

July 1st, 2009

I am in New York sitting with a sick friend for seven days. I’m staying in his apartment in Long Island City, yet spending as much time as possible in the Manhattan hospital he’s in while undergoing chemotherapy.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was anxious about the trip. What frightened me was using the subway to go between the apartment and hospital. As many times as I’ve been to New York, I’ve used the subway rarely, and never alone.

My friend e-mailed detailed directions, and another friend coached me. “Take the Seven train to Grand Central Station, then change trains to the Four, Five, or Six to Union Square.” The directions seemed simple, yet I was still scared.

When praised for his bravery in battle, General George Patton once said, “Sir, I am not a brave man; the truth is I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands, but I have learned early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.”

Some of the best advice I’ve heard on overcoming fear is to just do it anyway. That’s bravery. There’s a wonderful quote from the 2000 movie Bounce, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared.”

What frightens you, and how could you benefit by being brave and just doing it?

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