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Dare to Be Brave Blog Series

Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.
~Helen Keller~

In her book, Daring Greatly Brené Brown encourages us to be larger than our anxiety, fear and shame so that we can fully embrace the power of vulnerability and transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead. If you are a regular reader of Grow Forward & Flourish, you know that I’m a big fan of Brené Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability. One of our greatest challenges to embracing vulnerability is our fear of how others will perceive us. This fear is acknowledged and challenged by Theodore Roosevelt in his famous speech, “The Man in the Arena” which reads,

It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

Ever since I turned 50 years of age three years ago, the topics of courage, bravery and chutzpah have dominated a lot of reading. As I continue to immerse myself in this subject matter, I’ve been able to perceive and discern distinct patterns of mindsets and behavior in my life, in the life of family, friends, colleagues and clients which are helping me re-define what it means to be brave and how might more of us embrace bravery as a way of life.

In the face of the brutal realities of our world, we are tired of allowing the fear-based messages that inundate our society define what we believe to be possible in our life, and in the lives of those in our families and communities. We want to face the brutal realities of our world not with fear, but with courage. We want to be brave.

Finding Your Courage to Dare Greatly

In her book, Find Your Courage, Margie Warrell shares, “The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, meaning “heart,” and so the essence of courage is about living “wholeheartedly.” Therefore, so long as you have breath in your body you have all that it takes to live a courageous life. In fact, your life is waiting on you to do just that-not because you might die if you don’t act with courage, but because without it, you many never truly live.”

My friend, courage is not just about the heroic acts that we read about or see on the evening news, it’s also a reflection of the choices we make on a daily basis. Such as, when we take responsibility for our lives, live with integrity, challenge our limiting stories, dream BIG in the face of daunting circumstances, persevere in the face of failure, say “No” to people, tasks and activities that are not aligned with the vision we have of the life we want to experience, speaking up for what we believe and taking action even when we feel afraid because of a compelling vision of a new possibility.

With that being said, for each of us to find the courage to dare greatly, we have to learn how to better manage our perception of our fears and self-doubt. Self-doubt is often a reflection of our fear of failure, being rejected, looking foolish, or just being inadequate. Finding the courage to dare greatly requires us to acknowledge and accept our fear and insecurities as a normal part of our human experience, while at the same time, refusing to allow them define who we are, who we can become and what we are worthy of experiencing in life. Finding our courage to dare greatly increases our ability to think bigger, live bolder and create more rewarding lives.

Embracing Vulnerability to Dare Greatly

We have to be willing to embrace vulnerability to find the courage to dare greatly. When we think bigger, live bolder and set intentions to create a more rewarding life we are living wholeheartedly. According to Brené Brown, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

We live in an age of constant pressure to conform and pretend. This external pressure comes from individuals and institutions that are content with the “status-quo.” They are content with going with the flow to avoid rocking the boat. They assume that if isn’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing. Rarely do they step outside their comfort zone so their potential is boxed in by limiting assumptions of what is possible. Here’s a simple truth: people will often project what they feel and think about themselves onto others.  Which is why you should always be mindful of the opinions you give authority in your life.

This attitude my friend has been the downfall of many companies, the reason many marriages dissolve after years of pretending that everything is okay, why the fullness of potential in millions of people continue to be dormant and why so many people feel lonely surrounded by the people they expect to feel connected to. Conforming for the sake of people pleasing and pretending to protect our social masks takes a toll on our soul. There’s a better way and that way requires vulnerability.

Brown writes, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

I want you to take a moment and re-read the previous quote by Brené Brown. Read the words as if they were written just for you with the purpose of shining light on your fears and feelings of disconnection.

Show Up to Dare Greatly

The need to be seen as perfect is the fear of not being enough. The need to be seen as perfect prevents us from taking risks and exposing ourselves emotionally. The need to be seen as perfect prevents us from showing up authentically. The need to be seen as perfect shackles us to an existence of sitting on the sidelines hurling judgements and advice while all the time we don’t feel that we’re enough to get in the arena.

As we begin to relate to ourselves with loving-kindness and compassion so that we develop a more empowering perspective of our imperfect self. Demonstrating the grace of self-acceptance towards ourselves helps us to see that we don’t have to be “perfect” to show up and dare greatly.

Through gestures of self-acceptance, radical self-love and compassion toward ourselves we begin to be more confident in our ability to live a life of significance. We recognize that our unique contributions can make the difference in the lives of others. This awareness ignites a sense of purpose and a passionate determination within us to declare boldly through our actions that we are brave enough to be our best self and live our best life. We are all in!

Embracing My Shift to Wholehearted Living

Vulnerability has taken me where I wanted and needed to go. When I consider the risks I’ve taken and will continue to take that expose me as an imperfect, passionate creative entrepreneur  while at the same time working a full-time sales position, rejoining Toastmasters, promoting and marketing my latest book, Get Unstuck Now, launching my podcast “Flip Your Script w/YourGirlJackieB” and my first online personal development course this fall, I’m sure from the outside it may appear to some that I’m taking on too much or perhaps I’m not sure what I’m doing.

However, those who know me, especially those who worked with me at the Courtyard in Columbia and the Fairfield Inn hotel, Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants I managed in Wilmington, NC, understand that my personality, leadership and strengths are the most effective when I am working simultaneously on several projects.

I decided at the beginning of 2015 that I would have to dare greatly if I wanted this year to mark a turning point in my life, personally and professionally. And with the help of experts on Elance and Fiverr, I am receiving the support and services needed to make several of these projects happen.

Personally, I continue to seek to engage experiences that allow me to socialize with diverse individuals while providing me with opportunities to develop new friendships. I do believe that having a strong sense of connection with people who care about you enhances one’s sense of well-being.

I’m making plans to attend several local cooking classes, an art class, a salsa dance class and zip-line at our local zoo. All for the sake of daring to show up, have fun and experience new adventures.

July marks the 40th anniversary of my mother’s death and August marks the 20th anniversary of my son’s death. Both of these events were defining moments in my life. As I thought about 2015 last year, I knew in my heart that I wanted it to be a defining year in my life. Not because of the anniversaries of my mom’s and son’s death, but because of my willingness to embrace a journey of daring greatly in ways that I hadn’t before.

My intention has and continues to be that this year and the rest of my life I will live all in. Committing to this decision has brought me joy beyond measure and has allowed me to meet so many fantastic people that now I’m deliberately looking for social experiences that take me outside of my comfort zone. I am convinced that wholeheartedly living is fully captured when we step out of our comfort zone.

Pursuing new dreams and goals, making new friends, experiencing love and romance and engaging new adventures are not activities limited to young people. Life is meant to be embraced and enjoyed and not taken for granted at any age. As you read and apply the information in this mini-series, don’t be surprise as you begin to embrace life with a brave heart. Enjoy!

What You Can Expect

During the month of July, I will publish an article in this mini-series on each Monday at 10am EST. The weekly topics will be:

Week 1: Dare to Be Brave: Practice Radical Self-love ~ July 6, 2015.

Week 2: Dare to Be Brave: Develop a Resilience to Shame ~ July 13, 2015.

Week 3: Dare to Be Brave: Free Yourself from Masks and Armor ~ July 20, 2015.

Week 4: Dare to Be Brave: Engage Compassion, Connection and Courage ~ July 27, 2015.

Each article will consist of an essay on the topic of discussion, and the following call to action prompts: Reflect, Respond, Share.

The intention of the “Dare to Be Brave” blog series is to enable readers to:     Develop a positive sense of self-worth

·         Embrace vulnerability while leaning into uncertainty
·         Cultivate compassion, courage and connection
·         Engage life wholeheartedly
·         Become braver

Your Next Steps…
·         Subscribe to Grow Forward & Flourish to receive an automatic email when each article is published. You can do that here.

·         Share information about the series with individuals you feel would benefit from learning about courage, vulnerability, self-worth and living life with more fun and adventure.

·         Join the conversation by sharing your insights about an article on Grow Forward & Flourish and on my Facebook page.

·       Expect to learn and grow from the information shared during the series. And, have fun applying the information in your life

The theme song for the Dare to Be Brave blog series is by Sara Bareilles entitled "Brave". Check it out.

Sending you lots of love and light,

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