“What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?”
The Cowardly Lion got it right. I mean, I don’t expect to model my behaviour after a territorial muskrat, but you get the picture.
I’ve been conducting a bit of an experiment amongst my friends. I’ve asked people if they consider themselves to be courageous, or when the last time they demonstrated courage was. I tried this on about five or six people. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM replied stating that no, they did not identify as a “courageous” person by nature, and most could not recall the last time they demonstrated courage. In fact, a handful of them identified ME as the most courageous person they know, and when I asked why, they (in various different explanations) said that they felt that way because I’m outgoing and boisterous. Funny, I saw the total opposite, but since I’m privy to my own inner-head workings, I was the wiser.
I do identify as a courageous person (not all the time, but some of the time. I possess the ability to be courageous and try to tap into that when its needed) but I also identify many of my friends as courageous as well. I pointed out one instance to a friend who has taken on a rigorous fitness routine, and in just a few short weeks has seen a big change in her body and how she feels. That, along with (at the time of publishing) 9 weeks without smoking, have worked wonders in beating sluggishness. She said that she decided to take action not out of courage, but simply because she felt that it was time to start living a healthier lifestyle. I told her that I totally thought that committing to that kind of routine required courage; Courage to hold herself accountable, courage to change her lifestyle and habits so drastically, and courage to share this with her friends and allow us into that aspect of her life. She accused me of being a “cheerleader”, and told me that she didn’t think she was doing anything worth recognition. I pointed out another instance to another friend, when she applied and was hired for a position she thought she was unqualified for. She responded that yes, she took the chance, but it didn’t require any “real courage”. I asked why she would have applied if she thought there was truly no way she’d get the job, but she played down her initiative and chalked it up to a “might as well” mentality. These chicks are courageous, whether they know it or not.
So that go me thinking, what exactly is “real courage”? Is it jumping in front of a moving train to save 6-year old Jimmy who’s tied to the tracks? Is it being a rock for a loved one who’s going through a hard time? Is it trying something you think you may fail at? We quantify courage as a trait which is manifested through grand, dramatic gestures and intentions, yet we totally fail to recognize the day-to-day situations where we show courage. How lame is that? It definitely takes courage to make a change in your life, be it in the workplace, in your personal habits, in your communications or in the relationships you maintain. I see courage in interactions around me every single day, from the women who come into my store and try on a dress in a more-vibrant-than-they’re-used-to hue, to the folks who picket and protest for the causes they believe in on the street and in the market, to the moms who balance work and children and being a partner with all the other tasks the day has in store for them. Courage, courage, courage.
This week’s point to ponder is where YOU’RE showing courage in your life. Consider all the little areas in which you push yourself that much further, or follow the steps as rationally as they maybe should be followed, and the little victories you claim as a result. Are you a great leader in your workplace? Are you an amazing friend to those around you, and unwaveringly reliable? Are you the problem solver in your family, or the one who cools things down as the serene voice of wisdom? Consider all the tiny flickering moments of courage in your days and weeks, and give yourself credit for the ways YOU are a courageous force to be reckoned with!
(PIC LION) : I may be a Leo but I’m no Cowardly Lion!