Scott’s Thoughts: Cultivating Courage

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

-Eddie Rickenbacker, (October 8, 1890 – July 23, 1973), American fighter ace in World War I

Profile of a lion statue

When we hear of people overcoming extraordinary challenges, pitching themselves against the odds, or acting bravely in the face of danger, it can be hard to imagine how they managed to proceed. We might ask ourselves, “Could I ever be so fearless?”

But fearlessness is one of life’s greatest illusions. The fact is we all live with fears large and small, and fear is a constant presence. We can no more banish fear from our lives than we can banish time or gravity.

This is actually good news, because most good comes from turning towards our fear and facing it. Even accepting fear as a natural part of life can help us take the first step towards courage. Accepting our fears, identifying them, and permitting ourselves to feel them prepares us to do battle. The sooner we get comfortable with the “monster of the unknown,” the sooner we can begin looking it in the eye.

Fear is an opportunity to build courage. From courage comes growth. So learning to accept, identify, and confront fear is a valuable skill set to cultivate. Like a muscle which grows when worked in the gym, you can increase your capacity for courage by flexing in the face of fears. Yes, you may be scared, but you can step up and master the moment. Everything worth winning is on the other side of that fear.

It makes one wonder: If you live free of fear, are you even living?

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