“Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured. Without it, we wouldn’t even know what it means to be brave.”
~ Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
Dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear”. Meriam-Webster online dictionary list fearlessness as a synonym of courage. Thus, one common school of thought about courage is that it relates to the absence of fear. I disagree.
My concept of fear is closer to Stanley (Jack) Rachman’s view. In his book Fear and Courage he states: “courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. despite anxiety or fear.” Therefore, fear and courage go hand in hand. That sounds like my experience.
My favorite metaphor of courage and fear comes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She details how every step towards expressing her art has been fraught with terror. Many times her fears kept her small. But through her perseverance, she has realized that courage to express her true self is in concert with her fears. She describes it metaphorically like she is driving a car. Fear is trying to grab the wheel and thwart her efforts to go where she wants. She has learned to never give fear the wheel. In fact, she has learned to put fear in the back seat, buckled in tight. Fear cannot touch the wheel, the radio, the heater… Liz is in control of her own car/life, thank you very much.
‘Courage’ is a primer, a reminder of the — often ridiculous — barriers and expectations we impose on ourselves. How many times have you talked yourself out of pursuing a project because of a belief that it might not lead to anything? How many times have we failed to even begin a pursuit simply because we were afraid of what might happen? Believed that curiosity wasn’t worth exploring simply because we thought we weren’t good at something?
Consider these questions:
- How has fear affected your career? your life?
- When was the last time you overcame a fear? What was the outcome?
- Is there an interest or passion that you used to love that you’ve since set aside?
- If you wrote a letter to your fear, what would your letter say?
Spend time pondering who is really “driving your car.” You may end up getting a metaphorical car seat to strap fear in. I did and even when she escapes back into the front seat, it doesn’t take me long to return her to her car seat. I have enough distractions as it is.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown
CALL TO ACTION: Are you facing the unknown about your work? Let’s brainstorm strategies to navigate through the fear. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here: Schedule Free Consult.
Sign up for more weekly wisdom here: Karen Darrin Blog and receive a free gift, “How to Create Meaning in Your Life.”