Catching courage (it’s contagious)

Dare to be Fabulous stories are about the kind of courage that renown researcher and storyteller Brené Brown describes in her inspiring books and talks.

Here’s a brief description of that courage, excerpted from one of her blog posts:

The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic.

We certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage.

Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.

As Brown so adeptly points out, we tend to champion other people when they reveal vulnerability and courage, but we usually don’t dare to do the same. Here’s an excerpt from her book, Daring Greatly :

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing…Here’s the crux of the struggle: I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me. I’m drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.”

Brown asserts that courage is contagious. Indeed, it is.

Vulnerability is part of the human condition. When you dare to reveal your own vulnerability, with humor, with heart, with honesty . . . it provokes empathy from the people around you, because it validates that part in themselves. And that connection is the key. We connect by being honest and having an open heart; not by armoring up. And when we do this, it can prompt the courage in others to do the same, because they realize how more than okay it is to do so, how empowering, in fact, it can be . . .

In the midst of so much change in the world, as we enter winter and approach 2017, it seems to be a particularly ripe time to remind ourselves of the importance of personal courage. Let’s strive to dig deep into ourselves, to allow our vulnerabilities to show, to connect with each other authentically and to keep an open heart.

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