A very powerful word that has been prominent in media of all forms lately, is COURAGE. At every turn, you are being told what courage is, who is an example of courage, and what it means to have courage. The examples that are given to you are those of people who have faced seemingly overwhelming odds and come through them with a certain amount of success and grace. Courage is measured as the size of the obstacle, the appearance of an absence of fear, the presence of a potential human rejection… for courage to exist, it has to be action against a grand opponent that can be measured in some way by the outer world. It can be a bit overwhelming, and marginalizing if you don’t necessarily feel like you are a really courageous person. It can be very overwhelming if you feel like you have to display “courage” for others to see.
Most of you don’t consider yourself as have a blazing inferno of courage that drives your action from day to day – I include myself in this. You have daily obstacles that you must work through, but do so because they are a requirement of life. You don’t hunt down things to face off with. You don’t believe your struggles and challenges seem to measure up to what you think the world sees as a courageous battle. You do the stuff of life – rolling with it, but not always through it. If you had to really own a single word – there might be many great ones, but courage is one you may let someone else have. You don’t consider yourself a bonfire of courage, but you know you have sparks of it in moments.
But, do you act upon the sparks or do you let them fade away?
If you let the sparks fade , I encourage you not to. Here’s why…
Courage is not defined by the size of opponent or adversary you are facing. It is measured by the amount of fear you have, but choose to move face it anyway. Your fears may be a tangible person, system or issue that is clear and understandable to others. BUT… they may also be the internal ones that stem from your past experience, your own expectations, or your own internal battles. Any time you have that spark, choose to step in spite of fear – that is courage. Any time you step outside of your comfort zone, that is courage. Your spark of courage is never wasted regardless of how you see the size of your opponent. You are being courageous because you are choosing to do something that stretches, unnerves, or scares you… and you grow from it.
Courage in sparks is just as powerful as a blazing inferno of courage. The world gives us the message of “the bigger, the better”. From material things, to money, to fast food, and yes, even courage, if you’ve got some, more is somehow more valuable. The truth about courage is that a spark is just as powerful as a blazing inferno. The inferno would not exist without the spark. Even if a spark is not as visible as a huge flame – it can bring about the same results. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to bring about a massive result, you have to be willing to light the kindling by acting upon them. Don’t minimize who you are. Don’t minimize how courageous you are. Don’t minimize importance and impact of acting upon courage, simply because it doesn’t feel significant to you. It is significant.
Your sparks of courage, when you act upon them, are a powerful agent of change. They result in your growth, healing of hurts and personal development. When those moments of courage come and you don’t act upon them, you are robbing yourself of the opportunity to open yourself up to growth, learning, and potentially life enhancing experience. When you choose to act upon the spark, your “what ifs” and your “I can’ts” begin to turn to ashes. You see that those things that scare you, really aren’t as big as you make them to be. Acting upon the sparks, turns your mountains into stepping stones. That spark lights what becomes the bonfire of change. That is a powerful thing.
A Personal Spark Moment…
At the age of 35, I had been wanting to start my college education for at least 10 years. I had all kinds of reasons and many excuses as to why I couldn’t. After some… ok, a LOT of reflection, I realized that what it came down to was my fear of not being smart enough. For many reasons, I had chosen to feel less than intelligent. I was afraid to put in the effort and money just to fail. I was even terrified that I would take my placement tests, and not even be able to get into any classes. So, for at least 10 years, I did not pursue it.
Then one day – I had a spark of courage as I was out on my errands. As I passed the community college, I felt the spark, pulled into the parking lot, and walked to the placement testing center. Despite the fear, the shaking, and the nauseating anxiety, I took my tests.
The results of the tests were immediate. Not only had my fears of not being smart enough been proven false, I had scored very high on most of my placement tests. My worst “what if” had been proven to be an irrational and false belief I had chosen to let guide my decisions.
With kids, a job, and managing my writing and websites, it took me a while to finish all of my coursework. But in the end, not only did I graduate, but I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Communication Studies. Acting on that spark opened up a whole new world to me. That spark ignited a bonfire of change in my life.
Use Your Sparks to Start Your Fire
I challenge you to look for your sparks. I challenge you to act upon them. I challenge you to see the change that happens when you do. I challenge you to find what your personal courage is. When you do, I challenge you to use your sparks of courage to light your own bonfire of change.