When you think of someone who is courageous, what comes to mind?
Real life heroes? Superheroes? Firefighters, first responders, men in arms? We think of having courage as putting our lives on the line. And that's true, right? People who are willing to die for a cause or die for the sake of another, well, that's courage. I'm certainly not here to argue that it isn't.
But that isn't the only way to be courageous. That definition of courage ignores the reality of we'll call "ordinary courage." I wish I could say I coined that term, but I didn't. If you've read Brene Brown, you know it's not a term that I came up with. In fact, she explains what ordinary courage is throughout her written works:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”
Where traditional courage is about putting our life on the line, ordinary courage is to put one's vulnerability on the line.
That means we have the opportunity to practice bravery, practice courage each day. It's in the willingness to speak up when we feel afraid, in the act of reaching out and being vulnerable with others. It's putting ourselves out there. It's facing our giants. It's in the authenticity in which we engage those around us. It's in the openness of our imperfections.
It takes courage to allow ourselves to be imperfect.
It takes courage to reach out and confront the pain we have faced.
How are you practicing ordinary courage in your daily life? What decisions or life events are you facing right now that need your ordinary courage?
*If you want to read more about Ordinary Courage check out "The Gifts of Imperfection" By Dr. Brene Brown*