“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” –Eddie Rickenbacker WW2 Hero
My 4 year old daughter has Cerebral Palsy. She had a minor procedure recently. Not our first rodeo, but I was anxious nonetheless because it required general anesthesia. My husband usually stays home to get our 2 older boys off to school so I am used to going it alone. We were in the waiting room, watching that little bald headed Caillou on the flat screen. She wasn’t nervous. She just kept asking what color of popsicle she would get when she wakes up. Red is her favorite, for the record. As I glanced around the waiting room, anxious to get on with things, I felt a small warm hand slip into mine. I looked over at her, still looking at the TV, sitting there in her Hello Kitty hoodie and her yellow sweatpants, with her favorite book on her lap and Lilo & Stitch fluffy tucked by her side. I realized that SHE was comforting ME. And at that moment with her tiny hand cupping mine, I was the 4 year old. Oh how she teaches me.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu
It was January 2014. Her first big invasive surgery to stretch the tendons in her legs had just happened and she was coming out of recovery. I walked alongside the high gurney and held her little hand as the nurses wheeled her to her recovery room on the 3rd floor. She was doing great, on schedule to come home that evening. All smiles. Watching her favorite Disney movie, singing “Part of Your World” at the top of her lungs while waving that little red oxygen monitor light in the air like a teen at a pop concert.
Then she ripped her IV out.
A team of three IV specialists paraded in with their toolboxes and their black jumpsuits..20 minutes and they couldn’t find a vein. Now she’s getting mad. She’s screaming. She’s vomiting. One of them shouts to me, “Mom, can you hold her down so we can get this IV in?”
It was at that moment, wrestling my helpless little daughter down while she’s thrashing and howling and begging me with her eyes to make it stop. “Stop it Mama!! Stop!! HELP ME!!” I motioned for my husband to take over. I ran out of the room and into a nearby waiting room. Thank HEAVEN it was empty because I LOST it. I sobbed, and sobbed and SOBBED. I just kept repeating “I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!” And then I thought of Pepper. I reflected on all of the hours and hours of therapy, shots, stretching, surgery, and sleepless nights that girl has endured..always with a smile on her face. She is always so BRAVE. Despite whatever may be hurting her, whatever BIG scary thing happening in her life, she puts on that smile and tells US that it’s okay, EVEN when the fear in her eyes is real.
” ..courage [is] not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
She needed me to be brave. And somewhere, within me, I found it. I found the strength to go back in that room, because of HER. The fear wasn’t GONE, no, it was simply not as important as digging deep and mustering everything I had and more than I ever knew I had, to go back in that room and do what I needed to do. I sucked up my snot, I gathered myself together, and I marched back into that room. That was the first time in my 3 decades of life, that I was able to uncover something I did not realize I had.
There have been many more opportunities since then to see just how capable I am, and I am sure I will be tested many more times in my life. Also there have been MANY times that I simply couldn’t do it on my own. At those times I had to find the courage to ASK FOR HELP. And why that is such a difficult concept for us humans, is beyond me. I have faced a very difficult and painful kidney disease over the past 3 years. It has lead to my husband not being able to work due to being Pepper’s only caretaker while I was down. I had to learn to ask for help. I’m learning that
it’s okay to ask for help.
Asking doesn’t mean you are weak or that you have failed. You don’t have to be alone. Asking for help means that you are smart enough, and responsible enough to tap into the resources you are given, including the people around you. And you know what? People WANT to be needed, people WANT to help and feel like they are making a difference.
In business, at home, in everyday life, we face choices, all day long. Some of them seem scary. Some of them ARE scary. Some of them feel impossible, and uncomfortable and just out of reach. But all of them take courage. We can choose to stand back and stay comfortable. We can choose to look away when we see a stranger in need. We can make excuses when an opportunity comes our way because we feel we aren’t ready for it or that we are too small. Or we can choose to stand up and be scared out of our minds and speak up, voice shaking, but speaking up!
Living courageously involves moving our focus away from trying to remove fear to pursuing a full and meaningful life alongside fear.
Often we think of courage as a firefighter running into a burning building to rescue someone, or think of a person facing a bully or battling cancer. While those are great examples, I don’t think that strength and courage are always as as noble or rare as that. For some of us, getting out of bed in the morning is courage. For all of us, striking out on our own in business is strong and courageous.
“Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.” –Charles Swindol
I hope you are inspired as I am today to incorporate these lessons into your life and business. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Write a blog post about something you have been able to overcome. You have the ability to inspire those in your circles to know that they too have strength within to overcome their fears.
- Write down 1 task you’ve been avoiding because of fear. Next to it write down why you are avoiding it and then add a list of 3 steps you can take today that will get you closer to accomplishing it. Action cures fear.
- Write a letter to someone you care about but haven’t been able to express it. Life is too short. Odds are, they need to hear it today!