The Power To Be Brave When It Matters



“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”- Nelson Mandela A young child perched atop a house saw a wolf passing under...

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”- Nelson Mandela

A young child perched atop a house saw a wolf passing under him.

He immediately began to revile and attack his enemy.

“Murderer and thief,” he cried, “what business do you have here, near honest folks' houses? 

“How dare you come here where your vile deeds are known?”

The wolf replied, “Curse away, my young friend, I have every right to be here.”

This simple tale demonstrates that bravery is not something to be attained from a safe distance, but moving beyond our comfort zone.

The act of bravery signifies bold action, amidst the backdrop of fear and uncertainty.

Fear dominates people’s lives because of the perceived consequences. They cower in resignation, preferring the comfort of their known environment.

Yet, being brave invites us to reach beyond our safety net, not to plunge recklessly into uncharted territory, for that would be imprudent.

Recall the last time you summoned bravery?

What skills or lessons did you gain that are relevant today?

I appreciate Chögyam Trungpa’s understanding of bravery in Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, “The ultimate definition of bravery is not being afraid of who you are.”

Bravery then is a call to connect with our deepest wisdom. It calls us to identify your protagonist that lies dormant within.

Firefighters, paramedics and soldiers are brave because they face life-threatening circumstances everyday. The firefighter attends to the scene of a vehicle accident knowing in any moment the car could be engulfed.

Bravery can manifest in less noticeable ways. To pursue your dreams despite your family’s protests shows courage, since you are guided to pursue your truth despite their objections.

“We want to be brave, and deep inside we know that being brave requires us to be vulnerable,” affirms author Brené Brown in Rising Strong

Courage is expressed through our actions and words. To live a rewarding life on our terms instead of being dictated by other people represents daring bravery. Similarly, voicing your disapproval when you are wronged underscores the willingness to be treated with respect.

“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”- Aristotle

It is no surprise public speaking is considered a leading fear for many, yet for professional speakers being on stage is an opportunity to indulge their talents and genius. They are moved by passion and purpose rather than dictated by fear. What is frightening for some is exhilarating for others.

Sometimes the greatest acts of courage emerge from the smallest deeds. To apologise when you unintentionally hurt somebody calls us to be vulnerable when it matters.

Bravery is apparent when we express our deepest convictions. This generates authentic communication with others, instead of being guided by their opinions.

Author and Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron reminds us that bravery is taking action in spite of fear, “So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”

Life offers us multiple opportunities to choose bravery or endure defeat. Contained within those moments we discover the depth of our being.

As emotional creatures we are vulnerable to hurt and rejection, especially when our self-worth is at stake. Bravery allows us to overcome our inner Demons and emerge victorious with our self-esteem intact.

Brené Brown states, “The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.”

Ultimately, when we abide by our innate truth and deepest conviction, we needn’t concern ourselves about how others perceive us.

While not obvious, fear is an illusion dictated by our past. Many equate failure with lack of courage because it compromises their self-worth. As stipulated in an earlier article, equating self-worth to failure is futile to your long-term happiness. We must avoid associating failure to a lessened self-worth because the two are mutually exclusive.

Bravery emerges when we acknowledge our weaknesses and insecurities. Vulnerability, despite its association is not a sign of weakness. It is a symbol of courage, because we express our authenticity to others by revealing our weakness. In doing so, we invite those we trust to honour their authentic nature through a shared soul experience.

I am drawn to Dr. Alex Lickerman’s affirmation in The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, “If we want to be courageous, we should figure out what other people do to make us feel brave and trigger them to trigger that. If we want to be our best selves—in other words, the selves we like the most—we should aim first to pull the best selves we can out of the people around us.”

Equally, to admit one’s mistakes such as, “I’m sorry” shows our humaneness. We deepen our connection to others, allowing them to be less stoic and more genuine.

Bravery is a continued commitment to venture beyond our comfort zone when we’re reluctant. In doing so, we confront our fears instead of remain safe in a comfortable space.

As the opening fable emphasises, being brave from a safe distance does not reinforce courage, it only strengthens our fears.

We must cross over from cowardice to bravery to discover a new world that underpins our strengths and inner wisdom.

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