Finding Courage

25 06 2009

I have a dream, and I’m working toward it, but I’ve been struggling with many things along the way. Today I read Michael Hyatt’s blog:  6 Steps to More Courage. For me, courage means following my heart and doing what I know is right. Not just speaking up about injustice, but doing something about it. People around the world are risking their lives to do just that.

When I realize that, it puts my own worries in perspective. Yes, I may fail, but is failure the end of the world. Many people used failure as the stepping stone to other greater ventures. So can I. But I don’t intend to fail. I plan to succeed, and I know I will. I’m surrounded by great people who offer a helping hand when I need it most, who sacrifice themselves for my dream, who work hard to help, who support when I’m down. It’s hard not to be courageous with so many encouragers in my life.

One of my biggest encouragers was my dad. I’ll never forget a time I was offered a leadership position in an organization. I wanted to take it, but it meant doing a speech in front of 200+ people every month. I couldn’t speak up in a small group of 4 or 5 people. I’d NEVER be able to do that.

My dad asked, “Would you take this on if you didn’t have to speak?”

“In a minute” was my reply.

“Then tell them ‘yes.’ You can conquer your fears if you follow your heart.”

I took his advice, and I learned to do public speaking. It wasn’t easy. I signed up for a class that had 6 participants. After our first class assignment–standing in front of the group to say our names, hometowns, and 3 things about ourselves–I raced to the bathroom and threw up multiple times. I was that frightened. Each week on the way home from class, I’d have to pull over to the side of the road, because I was so ill.

By the time I did my first speech for the organization, I could do it without getting sick, but my legs and arms trembled and I couldn’t remember I word I’d said. I have no idea if what I said even made sense. But now, years later, I can get up in front of a crowd of 500+ and speak extemporaneously, if need be, with barely more than a quiver in my stomach.

And that also means I can find the courage to tackle this new venture. Someday I’ll look back on all my trembling and wonder what scared me so. For now, I’ll move ahead and keep repeating my dad’s advice:

“You can conquer your fears if you follow your heart.”

What have you been putting off because you’re afraid? Why not step out in faith and try it today? Feel free to share your own stories of courage. We’d love to hear them.

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