“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage.” –Anais Nin
Courage means something a little different to each of us. There are ways to show courage that take a grand effort and display, and there are ways that are felt internally, never seen or applauded by spectators.
On this Road to a Dream I find myself traveling upon, there is the ever-present Fear; fear of starting and fear of failure. At times, it feels as though one or both of these two fears is with me all the time. Without the Fear, however, there is no need to find Courage. Fear is the fuel upon which our courage grows and develops.
FEAR OF STARTING:
This comes from not always knowing where the next step on the road should be placed. Just because the decision to change has been made, that doesn’t mean there is a clear-cut path mapped out. There is no yellow brick road clearly leading off into the future. After we determine what particular trait we wish to change in ourselves, we must then map that road out ourselves. Some of us have friends and family to help us with this task, while others stand at the beginning of the road with no visible support system.
Courage comes in finding the strength to take that first step toward change. The first step truly is the hardest for many of us. Are we afraid the road will drop away as soon as we commit to that first step? Will there be some scary consequence or obstacle leaping out at us from the side of this new path?
FEAR OF FAILURE:
Fear of failure has caused many of us to stay in one spot longer than is healthy. Many new paths are never explored because we have learned to doubt ourselves—our decision-making abilities, our boldness, our flexibility, our faith or place in the human race.
People with a fear of failure worry, to varying personal degrees:
a. about what other people think of them;
b. they doubt their own abilities;
c. they fear letting down people they care about;
d. they fear failure indicates a lack of ability or intellect;
e. and they often set themselves up for the very failure they are worrying about by allowing themselves to get distracted with tangents and procrastination.
One definition I found for Courage is “The ability to do something that frightens one.”
“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” –John Wayne
Courage will help us overcome the fear of failure if we recognize the fear. Recognition/identification is usually the first step in solving any problem. Once you’ve done this that is the time to examine the fear and try to figure out where its roots lie. Then focus your energy on mapping out the path to your goal or dream. Focus on those things that you CAN change, accept those things that your CAN’T change. Sound familiar? It’s just like the Serenity Prayer says:
…Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Have you ever evaluated something that you are frightened of? As a young 20-something in the last century I read an article about facing our fears. Being the youngster that I was, I immediately thought of the most frightening thing I could at that time. Snakes. Any type, size, color, you name it I was terrified of it. So in keeping with trying to test this new theory I read about, I decided to try to face my fear of snakes. Long story short, I ended up coming home with a baby boa constrictor from the local pet store. What an adventure that was!
While I admit that Cuddles (yes, I named him Cuddles!) helped me overcome my fear of snakes, not all of my fears are as easily addressed. A snake is a tangible thing. You can see it and touch it—if you choose to, at least! But not everything we fear can be quantified or touched. The fear I felt when one or both of my sons was sent to Iraq or Afghanistan took a while to come to terms with. I learned quickly that sending my sailor-spouse off to a ship was nothing compared to sending my flesh-and-blood child off to a foreign country to be in the sights of an enemy.
Emotions and actions can’t be as easily identified. It took me a long time to realize there was such a thing as Fear of Failure. I just figured I was weak or cowardly about a lot of things in life. Learning about this real fear helped me understand I wasn’t alone. Being able to put a name to it also helped me realize that it was an issue that could be confronted and conquered. That doesn’t mean, however, that once I “overcame” it once it never reared its head again. This Fear has been dogging me off and on for decades!
That can be the adventure behind a change. The opening of new doors, new possibilities. For some of us, it may be helpful to think of changes as adventures. Taking that first step on the path to change can feel like leaping off a cliff of undetermined height while wearing a blindfold. But, oh, the joy when our feet land on solid ground! New ground. Learning about the surroundings in this new territory is half the fun.
There are so many ways to be courageous. The list is endless. Each of us has to find a path that works for us. And just because a path works once, that doesn’t mean it will work for us another time.
What did Maggie do that showed courage?
In my first book, “Maggie’s Story,” she was faced with intimidation tactics from the Snake gang. She showed courage in not cowing down and refusing to go on with her life. Maggie also was courageous in sticking to her conviction that she had to see justice done for the murdered store clerk. Walking away would have been easier, perhaps, but not if she wanted to stay true to herself. She then showed courage by placing her faith in her relationship with Daxon, and trusting that he would overcome his anger at her insistence to return to Earth for justice.
What did Shirley do that showed courage?
In the second book of the series, “Shirley’s Story,” it took courage for Shirley to go to the police station and file a Restraining Order and Order of Protection. Especially when that action is what sent him off the deep end the last time she saw him. I think it also took courage to step up and be willing to raise her friend’s child, knowing that it was about to upend her own life. Lastly, being willing to leave Earth to go back to the ship, due to her surprise circumstance, was courageous.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” –Walt Disney
Let’s evaluate our goals and dreams. Then let’s map out a path to reach them. It may take a while to achieve, but take that first step onto the path, or leap off that cliff, and see where your feet land.
What have you faced in your past that has taken courage? Do you find it harder to enact change for your own benefit than if it is to benefit a loved one? Please feel free to leave a comment or question! If you enjoyed this week’s posting on The Road to a Dream, please pass it along to your friends and family.
Picture courtesy of Asifthebe/FreeImages
WORK IN PROGRESS (WIP)
My current Work in Progress is book three of The Intergalactic Matchmaking Services. This book will be called “Penny’s Story.” I’ve paused in the writing of it for the moment to take a few classes online about the writing craft itself. I will pick up writing again on this story in the next week or so, I’m sure. Have a look at the cover for this latest book and let me know what you think!
I have sent “Maggie’s Story” to a new editor to help me identify some of these Point of View errors, and to help tweak the writing for more Showing, less Telling. Nothing will change with the plot, characters, or any other details in the story. I only want to polish it up a bit to make the reading flow more smoothly and be more enjoyable for fans of the series. Once the editor gets the document back to me, I will re-release it as a Second Edition.
My hope is that my skill as a writer will grow with each book. The kind reviews I have received mean so very much to me! I thank each and every reader for their time.