Why courage will make you question everything
We often use the word to describe a characteristic of a person or group of people that has faced a fear or a particularly tough situation and not let it get the better of them. They have dug deep, reached inside themselves to the area where all the really gutsy qualities of grit, determination and resilience are stored, the treasure chest of inner qualities, and said to themselves, I will not give up! This situation will not beat me!
We’ve all heard stories about athletes who have overcome injuries, pain and adversity and still managed to finish the race or win the match. If not for the selfless acts of countless men and women before us that faced wars, we wouldn’t be able to freely write and share our thoughts with the world. We all know friends or family who have experienced the pain of illness or losing loved ones and yet still managed to find a way to live their lives, often inspiring others through their story. We see examples of courage in all of these and they inspire us, motivate us and often move us to tears. These examples of courage are biggies. Books get written, movies made, stories shared on social media and rightly so. They force us to do a bit of digging around in our own treasure chest and to perhaps ask a few questions of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t find the answers we want but the images and the stories of those that have already faced the pain, the fear and the danger motivate us to make a few changes. To say to ourselves, I won’t give up!
I wonder though, how often do we miss little but amazing acts of courage all around us each day? How often do we judge another person’s action by our own standards? What we would regard as a pretty simple task or no big deal might just have required for that other person to dig into their own treasure chest of inner qualities and pull out bucket loads of determination to overcome a fear. That’s also courage.
As a sports coach I’ve had the great pleasure of coaching young people and adults a range of sports in different countries. Sport is a wonderful platform to witness acts of courage and I’ve seen hundreds of examples over the years each one forcing me to do a bit of reflecting. Each one inspirational in its own way. The young girl who wouldn’t leave mum’s side to join the class but eventually overcame their fear, joined us and had a great time. Courage. The boy who nervously volunteered to demonstrate the newly learned skill in front of the entire group. Courage. The blind student excited to take on tennis. Courage. The student choosing not to do the wrong thing even when all their friends are. Courage. The young boy risking ‘girl germs’ with their assigned partner when all the other boys are paired up with each other. Courage. The sports coach ignoring their pride and asking for advice and feedback. Courage.
These examples are obviously not comparable to a soldier at war or cancer patient or family who’ve lost a child. Those people save lives, sacrifice lives, face life threatening situations and face life without loved ones. Extraordinary courage. There are also little acts of courage all around us though and as sports coaches and parents we have the opportunity to reward and to encourage them. We just need to make an effort to notice them. To make the time to notice them. I’m not suggesting we have to make a TV series or write a book about the next young person we see who overcomes a fear and demonstrates courage. We could however, ask ourselves a few questions.
What do we do to develop courage in the young people we coach?
Do we let little acts of courage go unnoticed?
How often do our young people demonstrate courage without us acknowledging it?
Do we lead by example?
Do we inspire and motivate the young people we coach through our actions?
Asking questions of ourselves isn’t always easy. It often requires us to dig a few qualities out from our inner treasure chest. It can be challenging and uncomfortable but almost always rewarding. Acting on what we discover demonstrates….