Maybe what matters most is being brave
EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog is dedicated to the beautifully brave women in my life who have reminded me recently how awesome it is to both EXPERIENCE and WITNESS courage in action. Whether it’s facing a life-changing medical crisis and remaining strong and brave in the face of uncertainty, like my sister Lisa and my cousin, Donna. Or the beautiful and brave women who leapt despite their fear to put themselves and their health and happiness first as they embark on their own In-the-Equation journeys. To all the beautiful and brave women I know — this one’s for you. #brave #bravegirls #onebravething
When I was in the physical part of my personal transformation journey — nearing my weight-loss goal — someone asked me what the tipping point was for me. How did I find success this time when I had tried and failed so many other times?
To be honest, I don’t remember my exact answer. But I remember thinking later that I needed to know the real answer for myself. So I kept asking myself — what WAS different this time? How DID I do it?
A few days later, I noodled on a napkin the words: “Everything changed when I learned I could be brave and afraid at the exact same moment.” I lost 200 lbs and made my health, happiness and life a priority, the day I was brave and afraid at the same time…and acted anyway.
It was both the act of deciding and taking action that was brave. And little did I know at the time, but life with Lori-in-the-equation would require living a brave life.
Too often we let fear stop us. The fear of putting ourselves out there, the fear of what others will think, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, even fear of success, can stop us dead in our tracks. When fear stops us, we play it safe. We retract and don’t go for what we really, really want. Often we stay stuck or living small. We don’t let ourselves truly shine. And for many of us, it means we don’t reach our personal and greatest potential. Can you relate?
There is another way. The brave life.
Fast forward a year or so from the time I noodled on the napkin. That’s when I discovered the work of amazing author, storyteller and shame researcher, Brene Brown. According to Brown, COURAGE is defined as a willingness to show up and try. To let people know you care about something when you are totally afraid and don’t know the outcome. “The trying is the brave part,” she says. Putting yourself in the arena and daring greatly when you don’t know the outcome.
Well, yep, I was a living example of that! And for the past five years, I’ve been working to live a brave life. It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth it. And now, I have the opportunity through my work to encourage, coach and support others in their acts of bravery. And that is a very cool thing!
So why this blog about being brave?
These past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be brave. And about the role that being brave has in our lives whether we are trying to affect or adapt to big changes — some we seek and some that happen to us. How do we begin the process of finding our courage and deciding to act? How do we foster in ourselves the courage to show up and vulnerable — to really been seen — even and especially when we’re scared and we don’t know the outcome?
My definition of brave
To me, being brave means going head strong into something really hard or scary, despite your fear. It means noticing your fear, acknowledging it, and then pushing past the worry, excuses and self doubt — that pit in your stomach that says, “Wow, I really am scared and I really don’t want to do this, but I know I need to!” — and doing it anyway.
When it’s something that stretches you, challenges you, helps you grow and change and you go 100% all in despite your fear, well, in my book you get big bonus points. Those bonus points show up in your life when you do the work, as you practice your courage and take action. And P.S., your going to slip and fall and even fail. There will be absolutely be times that you win and succeed and it feels fantastic and propels you forward immediately. You soar, and you can’t fully understand why you were so afraid and stuck in the first place. And then, there will absolutely also be times you will take the leap and fall flat on your face. Yep. Cause that’s life.
The latter is when you need to stop right where you are — while “you’re on the ground after getting the crap kicked out of you (figuratively)” — and feel what you need to feel (mad, sad, embarrassed, angry, hurt…) Then you figure out how to navigate what just happened (based on the truth, not your story about it) and eventually you get to the point where you learn something from it. You learn about yourself. Then you dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and get back to business living brave again!
Why bother living a brave life?
The truth is, I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m in the conscious act of being brave or courageous! I don’t think you can achieve transformative change or perhaps even find real, true connection with others in your life without being brave. For me, being brave was a launching pad to unlocking my greatest potential and achieving what I really, really wanted. And it still is! The more courageous I am in my life every day, the less intimidating the BIG scary thing feels. And conquering your fear feels awesome. This bravery propels me forward to the next hard thing, and the next, and the next.
Perhaps the coolest thing of all, is that for many an increased sense of worthiness comes from being brave. It was in the process of doing really brave things that I realized in the deepest part of me, that I am truly enough. The bonus for me of bravery was a leap forward in my worthiness equation! It was in the act of the bravery and by living a brave life, no longer settling for safe or easy or less than I desire and deserve that has helped me determine my real worth and begin to accept myself exactly as I am — flaws and all. That’s another pretty great reason to be brave.
Brene Brown points out in her amazing work that worthiness, shame, vulnerability and courage are all connected. Worthiness is not something you just decide you have and wholla — by some form of magic you now believe you’re enough. Rather, as Brown points out, worthiness is “not an attitude, but a practice. It’s a street fight every day.” I get that. I am in that street fight every day — five years later and still going.
In my view, if we adopt a growth mindset and want to be the very best human beings we can be — we don’t have a choice but to act put on our brave hat and act with courage. We have to tackle the really hard things — what scares us most — or we remain stuck, small and sometimes pretty unhappy. And that’s not acceptable. At least not to me.
Do one brave thing
The really cool thing is that if you are stuck living small, you can still practice bravery. It’s never too late to change. And you can and will get better at it. Trust me. By simply deciding to challenge ourselves to do ONE brave thing a day or a week, and then notice how it feels, we build our skills and comfort level at showing up and daring greatly. That’s how we lead brave lives.
I experimented with this myself by starting a “Do one brave thing” challenge in June of 2012 and again in Oct. 2013. (Read my blogs about it below.) I pushed myself to do things outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis — something that challenged me physically, mentally and/or emotionally. Often they were smaller things, but they were still brave — putting my heart on the line with a “boy” by letting him know how much I loved him, apologizing to someone first even when they hurt me, and climbed my first big mountain solo.
If you’re inclined to join the “Do One Brave Thing” challenge. Start here. Start small and work your way up to the big things. Simply decide to do ONE THING every day that challenges you to think and act outside your comfort zone. Something that challenges you — physically, mentally and emotionally. Something that requires you to do something hard, something you’ve been afraid to do.
You get the idea. You will know best what is brave for you. Then note how you feel before, during and after your one brave act. If you’re so inclined, please share your experience here. I’d love to hear from you!
Being brave and living a brave life is awesome! It’s not always easy. You have to be prepared to fail and fall, and it is not fun when you do. But that’s where the real learning and personal growth happens. I have the privilege these next few months to not only continue to live my brave life, but to witness bravery in action and I’m equally excited about that.
Happy Motivation Monday. Happy bold and courageous living. #bebrave #livebrave #onebravething #doonebravething #motivationmonday #bravingthewilderness
Be well. Be happy!
Read my One Brave Thing Series
- One brave thing – June 2012
- One brave thing, part 2 – Oct. 2013
- A whole life…the best life – Feb 2014
- I do hard things — July 2015
Check out Brene Brown’s work here: