Choosing to take on a challenge whether to start, stop or continue a new behaviour is a very positive step towards change.
Is it enough though? I don’t think so.
What else do we need?
What is that core ingredient at the heart of the challenge that either leaves it as another item on another list for another year OR is the ingredient that channels inner strength to forge forward and take action.
For me the ingredient is COURAGE
How do we connect in to courage – well for me its about allowing it be my main focus – put it at the top of the list – make it the number one priority – even above fairness and compassion (which I hold very highly).
Maya Angelou writes that Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. I have learnt through Maya Angelou’s words that it’s courage that I need to evoke change. I can make lists all day long but its courage that turns the list into action.
It may be the courage to reach out and ask for help or to believe I have what it takes or even the courage to admit I am happy today with what I have achieved. The courage to be grateful for who is in my life, the courage to appreciate my strengths, the courage to live and lead with integrity, the courage to live up to my potential, the courage to choose meaningful projects to work on, the courage to work with reality whatever the facts are, or the courage to take a different view with an open mind.
Courage takes effort – in other words, like any good habit – we have to practice it. I find it works for me when I put effort in to remembering to start with courage. I have it written up on cards and placed in locations where I can see it often throughout the day – on my desk, in my wallet, on my bedside table. Try for yourself – put the word courage in a number of key locations for you and see how it impacts the number of times you act in a purposeful and meaningful way.
A great poem to support courage – Still I Rise – Maya Angelou. Enjoy
Still I Rise
BY MAYA ANGELOU
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise.
Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)
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