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Courage Can Be Taught

Is courage the willingness to show up and be seen and heard?

Can courage be taught?

Yes, and yes.

I studied resilience in the early 2000’s. I was part of a local prevention council working in the schools to promote protective factors to offset risk factors. We discovered that what makes the difference for children and youth is ONE meaningful relationship with someone who ‘gets’ you. Children growing up in the same home, same circumstances can have very different outcomes. The deciding factor was that one relationship.

Think back to someone in your life who made a difference for you. They held you in high regard. How did you know they held you in high regard? What did they do, and who were they being? Really; pause for a moment and consider this.

What are the ways that relationship gave you the courage to show up as who you are and allow yourself to be seen and heard?

When and how does your courage show up in your life now?

Now many people are studying, exploring and writing about courage.

Parker Palmer wrote a profound book in 1998 titled The Courage to Teach. He now has The Center for Courage and Renewal. Brene’ Brown speaks and writes about courage. It is on the radar. There are authors, speakers, quotes, and organizations talking about and exploring courage.

For me, showing up and speaking up is courage. There are risks associated with asking questions. One risk is asking questions of someone who perceives your questions as questioning them. Their response can be dismissive, or sometimes being accused of not going along with the program. It often takes courage and commitment to be the one in a group willing to ask.

Another risk of asking questions can be when we ask bigger questions such as:

  • Who am I?

  • For what purpose was I put here?

  • How do I serve?

  • What are my values, gifts, talents, strengths, and callings?

  • What are the ways I can make a positive difference in the world?

  • How much do I really care about what others think of me?

  • Am I willing to not fit in and take the risk of being ostracized or rejected for speaking what I see and know?

  • Why does this seem harder because I am a woman?

  • How do we all integrate our masculine and feminine energy to bring more of who we are to the world?

Each of those questions lead to more questions. It becomes an exploration that is endlessly fascinating to me. I have never been satisfied with answers, even as a child. Maybe, especially as a child. We are taught very early to stop asking so many questions, and we lose our sense of wonder and curiosity if it is not intentionally encouraged and supported.

Courage can, and should be taught.

Brene’ Brown offers 4 pillars of courage: vulnerability, values, trust, and skills.

She also offers the truth that if you are brave, and speak up, and speak your truth, you will be hurt. Courage and bravery are not for the faint of heart. That said, in Montana terms, speaking your truth will “cull the herd.” Those who are willing to explore, even when they are afraid, will be intrigued, interested, and perhaps explore with you. For many others, the discomfort of not knowing stops them. They may watch you as you take risks, particularly the risks required for personal growth, but will rarely join you.

The most powerful way to teach is by example.

Creating opportunities for children, youth, and adults to explore the edges of their comfort can, and should happen intentionally. The natural world is a playground for developing courage. There are examples of growth everywhere.

We are living in complex, uncertain times. Developing a high tolerance for uncertainty and riding the waves of change requires vulnerability, knowing what you value, trusting yourself, and building skills: both intra-personal (knowing self) and inter-personal (being with others.)

What grounds you in times of change?

What are the rituals, practices, and behaviors that bring you back to your center and allow you to trust yourself and grow?

I would love to hear from you.

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