You are a courageous person. I know that because I know that you have done courageous things in your life already. You were courageous the day your parents dropped you off at summer camp for your first time. You were courageous as a budding thespian in your high school play when the curtain went up and you were staring at 600 schoolmates. You were courageous in college when you contested the lousy grade your dopey English professor gave you. It took courage for you to give up your dogged independence and say “I do.” And for some of you, it took courage to let go of a bad relationship by saying “I don’t!”
You are courageous. But, in all likelihood, you have been courageous through happenstance, not intentionality. It’s not like you consciously sought out the abovementioned situations just to experience your courage, right Yours has been an incidental courage. Your courage manifested itself as a byproduct for engaging with fear. Most often you’ve fallen into your courage as a reluctant participant.
It is healthy to shift your courage from incidental to intentional. All it takes is making a deep commitment to acting consistently courageous, that is, a commitment to living a life of courage. Instead of waiting to respond to situations with courage, you actively seek out opportunities to be courageous. You constantly ask yourself questions like, In what areas of my life do I need to be more courageous? What is the next courageous thing I need to do? and Besides me, who needs my courage most?
Before making the shift from incidental to intentional courage, it’s easy to view life as a series of situations that life dumps on you, whether you’re ready or not. But when you act with courageous intentionality, you become a sort of storm-chaser, actively searching for challenging opportunities in which to apply your courage. The shift moves you from someone who life happens “to,” to someone who makes life happen.
Remember, you are already a courageous person. The question is, are you incidentally courageous or intentionally courageous?
Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting. His latest book is Leaders Open Doors, and focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international bestselling book that introduces the concept of courage-building. He is also the author of Courageous Leadership: A Program for Using Courage to Transform the Workplace, an training toolkit that organizations can use to build workplace courage. Bill has led courage-building workshops for, among others, NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. To inquire about having Bill work with your organization, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.