Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Personal Lesson on Why Courage is Essential to Living Your Best Life

Life shrinks or expand in proportion to one's courage.

~Anais Nin~

Play With the World

If you've been following me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ during the past six months, you know that I was inspired by Shonda Rhimes book "Year of Yes" in the declaration of 2017 "My Year of Yes". 

Of course, a key practice that I'm having to embrace in a bigger way is the practice of being courageous as I weekly push myself to step beyond what is familiar into that which isn't familiar and someone scares me.

As the year began to unfold, I remembered how using my superpower of curiosity helped me to diminish my previous fear of driving, public speaking, flying on a plane and even uprooting from my hometown of Columbia, SC to move to Wilmington, NC. I shouldn't be amazed by how my strength of curiosity helps me flip the script on my fear-based stories, yet, I am forever grateful for the grace to maintain this child-like trait when so many adults dismiss it as they get older. 

My curiosity helps me play with the world in ways that feeds my soul's calling for expansion and contribution.

One of the ways I've plan to add more value to emerging and experienced female leaders while expanding the field which I play in the world is through the launch of two new signature coaching programs:

1. The 30-Day Lift Off Success Coaching Challenge.
2. The 90-Day Lift Off Success Coaching Program.

After the completion of the 30-Day Lift Off Success Coaching Challenge, female leaders have an opportunity to receive additional guidance and support for the completion of a 90-Day project or goal achievement.

Right now, I'm conducting a soft launch of the 30-Day Lift Off Success Coaching Challenge. If you're interested in knowing more about this coaching opportunity, click here to schedule your free Leadership Clarity Call and let's chat.

The reminder of this article is from the archives of what was once my blog, Grow Forward & Flourish. I will be re-purposing these articles for my my new website under construction. 

Blog Title: A Personal Lesson on Why Courage is Essential to Living Your Best Life

Several years ago, a morning meditation session awakened my consciousness to this thought, "Personal integrity is  not just about speaking the truth, it is also about living your truth." For a week or so, I pondered this though and it's implications in my life. Of course I had to ask myself, "Am I  living my truth?" The more I thought about this, the more I realized that living my truth is not just about being a person of my word, it includes becoming the best person I can be and expressing that in my unique way in the world. Living my truth means expanding my capacity to contribute in ways that would serve others, while at the same time add to my happiness. I adopted one of Tony Robbins motto's: Progress equals happiness!

For awhile I had been contemplating another thought,"Why is it that in the past five years, I have done less of the good that I've wanted to do compared to similar periods in my life?" I knew from experience that I had taken action in the face of greater circumstances. So, I had to ask myself, "What's going on now that I was willing to tolerate "what is" versus taking purpose filled actions to create what could be?"

Whenever I have a question that bugs me for a period of  time and it seems that I am unable to come up with an answer, I utilize my professional mentor and coach and I've developed the habit of going to our local library and checking out books with titles that resonate with what is going on within me at the time. Soon after this particular meditation session, I checked out the book Find Your Courage: 12 Acts of Becoming Fearless at Work and in Life by Margie Warrell.

In the introduction, Warrell writes, "Every time an opportunity challenges you to be more than who you presently are-to take responsibility for the state of your life, express yourself authentically, act with integrity, pursue your dreams, open your heart wide to the experiences of life, say no to what doesn't inspire you and yes to what does-you are acting with courage. Such opportunities to act with courage arise every day of  your life." Once I read this, I knew that it was not a coincidence that I checked out this book.

The Integrity-Courage Connection

I quickly flipped the pages of the book to the section entitled, The Courage to Live with Integrity. The following quote, "We have the responsibility to listen to and honor the siren call of our Souls - too often silenced by our egos" by Lance Secretan, author of Inspire What Leaders Do, immediately caught my attention.

Before going on to read this particular section of the book, I had found my answer to the questions that were keeping me up at night and on my mind first thing in the morning in this quote. I'm sure you've had a similar experience.

Talk about an Aha! moment. I hadn't taken responsibility for the siren calls within my Soul. Instead, I had made excuses as to why I hadn't taken "all" the actions that I could have to move my ideas forward. And the reason: I had lost sight of my heart's intention and allowed my ego to make my ideas all about me.

How foolish of me to believe such a thing. During all the years in which I have taken a proactive approach to my personal growth and flourished beyond my expectations, it was because I kept at the forefront of my mind and in the core of my heart this truth, my actions were a reflection of the duty I felt to serve others with passion in my unique way. It was from this heartfelt desire to serve that I took risks and overcame daunting challenges.

Yes, I have and continue to be blessed because of my willingness to contribute value in the lives of others, but my initial thought comes from my heart's desire to make a difference, to live a life that has a positive impact on the lives of others. How did I allow my ego to make my ideas about me? Answer: I failed to maintain the integrity of my spirit.

Integrity of the Spirit

Whenever we fail to honor the sacred nature of who we are and the unique ability that we have to express it in our world, we are not being who we can be. When we are not being who we can be because we think we don't have the courage to do so, we quietly "live a lie". 

Overtime, this way of living diminishes our capacity to remain connected to the spiritual aspect of ourselves. We become cynical towards life and begin to tolerate and accept less from ourselves and others. When we disconnect from the essence of who we are, we disconnect from the wisdom and strength of God that is needed for us to face and overcome our challenges. 

Recalling various situations in my life during the previous five years, I began to recognize moments where I had dismissed my intuitive voice. Instead of listening to my inner wisdom, I began to "think" logically on every aspect of what I needed to do to move forward on many ideas that I believed would have a positive impact on the lives of others. This manner of thinking disconnected me from living and embracing life from my truth.

I believe in logic. However, it has been my experience that not everything in life can't be explained with logic. I know from experience that tuning into my inner wisdom by quieting my mind chatter enables me to better navigate opportunities and challenges.

What was so different now in my life that I was willing to dishonor what I knew to be true about God's faithfulness in my life? Why did I not have the guts to live authentically? To live boldly by faith?How did I become ego-driven versus service driven? It turns out that unconsciously I had been developing a fear consciousness. 

Fear and the Collective Consciousness

I made a big mistake. I underestimated the collective fear consciousness that is pervasive in our culture. From the media, family, friends, politicians to well-meaning strangers we are all inundated with messages of fear 24/7. I had failed to take responsibility to guard my heart as instructed in the book of Proverbs. As a result, I was living a life that was being heavily influenced by fear instead of love, hope and faith.

Being conscious of the mindset and emotions influencing our actions or inaction empowers us to find courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is taking action in the presence of  it.

In order for me to return to love as the dominant intention behind my actions, I would have to find my courage. 

Waddell writes, "With courage, you will be able to reclaim the power that fear and self-doubt have wielded in your life, to boldly step into action, and to stay the course toward what tugs at your heart and brings your life a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment."

She goes on to say, "As you step beyond your comfort zone onto unfamiliar ground, new possibilities will open up for you that currently lie beyond your range of vision. Will it be uncomfortable at times? Sure. In fact at times it may be terrifying. However, being called to do what you fear most is a direct route toward experiencing just how powerful, resourceful, brave, and amazing you really are. With courage, possibility takes bloom."

The Courage to Take Meaningful Action

Since these moments of awakening, I have with intention began to nourish my hope and faith from a multitude of sources. A few years ago, I started the  In the Spirit segment on my blog to keep me reminded of how important it is to stay connected to my divine source and to listen to the wisdom of my intuitive voice.

I have reached out for help to those within my network who are skilled in areas that I am not so that I can leverage their smarts and strengths to help me move my ideas from a state of dreaming to a state of manifestation.

Am I scared? Yes and no. I'm scared that if I don't take action now, I will live to get older and be shackled by regrets. I'm confident that as I pay attention to the leading of my inner wisdom which is being immersed with hope and faith in God and in myself, that the challenges I face ahead will be worth overcoming as I stop playing it safe and embrace the truth of who I am and who I can become,with lots of help!

I want to hear your thoughts: How has the lack of courage prevented you from living the truth of who you can become? Share your comments below.

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Thank you for reading, connecting and sharing. I appreciate YOU! Your feedback helps me improve my ability to serve in a meaningful way.

Think Bigger. Feel Bolder. Act Braver.

With Love
Coach Jackie B