Late last year I wrote a blog post on what it is to have courage in life. Today I am excited to post a follow on from that story in the form of a speech that I will be presenting at a Toastmasters meeting very soon… it is personal, it is telling and its very exciting (well for me anyway…)
Life Favours the Courageous…
Tonight it is my pleasure to speak with you about what it is to be courageous ‘in life’. In fact I am being courageous in life right now.
Courage as defined by Wikipedia, is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, etc and by Nelson Mandela as a choice, no-one is born with courage, it is the way that we choose to be. So when we choose to confront fear we are being courageous in life. The wonderful thing about confronting fear is that in return life favours the courageous. To demonstrate this point, I will begin by looking at personal fear in general, at why we confront personal fears and then I will share with you my own personal experience of the rewards and opportunities that have been presented to me as I have faced a fear with courage.
So what is personal fear? Well it really depends on you and what it is that you fear. As you all know by now one of my fears is public speaking – in the past the mere thought of having to speak in front of an audience about anything at all made my hands perspire, my heart beat like an African drum and my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth so any intelligent sounds heard in the near vicinity were certainly not coming from me.
Conversely I am sure Oprah Winfrey has never batted an eyelid about public speaking but I do know she has a fear of balloons, the sound of a bursting balloon reminds her of gunfire so the expectation of being in the vicinity of one that is going to pop sends her body into panic and her mind into a spin.
It is therefore when we face our own personal fears, for me attempting public speaking, for Oprah stepping into a studio where each member of the audience had a balloon on her 40th birthday and continuing to work through her show, is being courageous in life, it is facing a fear, FEELING IT, taking a deep breath and then doing ‘whatever it is’, ANYWAY.
Perhaps there is an area in your life that is marred by fear, perhaps you have a fear of heights so you keep your feet firmly on the ground while the rest of your family enjoys the beauty of the treetop walk in Walpole? It certainly is inherent to human nature when faced with a situation that makes us feel discomfort or vulnerable to avoid, duck, dodge and weave. So why bother being courageous ‘in life’? We all know what it is to feel fear, I know that for many of you that is why you started the Toastmaster process. So why did YOU bother?
Its because of the rewards of course. While everyone will have their own personal reasons for facing their fears, we are all human, therefore there must be a reward in it for us somewhere.
We are rewarded when we work on our fears by shedding light into areas of our lives that have been previously kept in the dark. We begin to master those things that have tried to enslave us and this not only gives us immense feelings of pride and success but we are also rewarded with opportunities for experiences we might not otherwise have had.
This was recently brought home in a speech that I listened to by Brene Brown on vulnerability, she described fear as standing on the edge of a swamp. “You can stand on your side for ever, looking at the other side where it is safe, free, green etc . You can stand there on your own, or you can grab the hand of somebody and wade across.” And the opportunity to wade through the swamp being led by a supportive hand is exactly what joining this toastmasters group has been like for me.
I have found myself a member of your group of people with whom I would have not otherwise met. A group of people who are individually so very different yet have one common goal, to improve themselves. A group that works because of this so that ego is replaced with nurturing, competition replaced with endless support and encouragement.
I have had the opportunity to learn about positive communication and the reassurance of active listening. I have learned a little about Canada, soccer in Africa, how to diffuse verbal criticism and of course zombies. Each presenter has shown their personality in the delivery of their speeches making every single presentation interesting, different and diverse so that I have learned to view public presentations as forums not for criticism, but for simply the telling of a story.
And I have had the opportunity to spend time with others who lead courageous lives which has already inspired me to not give up.
It is apparent to me that the decision to face your fears with courage, is only the beginning of things…
making this choice is the same as diving into a strong current that will carry you to places you never dreamed of when the decision was first made and as such you will be favoured by life.