We are raised in a culture soaked in fear.  We are not really expected or required to be courageous.  It is completely acceptable that we heed our fears.  If we think about it at all, we tend to think of courage as an epic quality more relevant to characters facing make-believe, life-threatening situations in stories and games than it is to our day-to-day lives.  These are some of the pervasive myths about courage that are disguised as wisdom to keep us  safe; but actually prevent us from living our best lives, according to Coach Simon Ekin, a Teacher of Courage, who will who will be speaking at the SACAP Festival of Learning in Cape Town on 27th May.

“Most people don’t think they are courageous.  They believe that others are,” says Simon, “But the truth is, that all of us were ‘born of courage’, and we all have wells of it that we can draw on over the rest of our lives.”

 

Do we even understand what courage is?  Courage is far from limited to extravagant heroics.  “Doing anything outside our comfort zones is courageous,” Simon asserts, “Going for a goal, risking rejection, speaking about something that is really important to us – it’s all courage.  In the words of Susan Jeffers: ‘Feeling the fear, and doing it anyway’ epitomizes courage.”
The word courage may spark grand fireworks in our imaginations, but the reality is that courage is actually really effective in small doses.  And, courage is often, simple.

 

For instance, it simply takes courage to say something to a person that you really know should be said – by you to them.  But what do we do?  Discomfort and fear cause us to rationalize why we can’t say it to them.  We’ll hurt their feelings.  They won’t understand where we are coming from.  We’ll cause conflict.  They’ll think I’m an idiot.  I can’t say it.  So, I bow to fear, believe in my excuses, and probably, instead say what I want to authentically say to someone else – in the form of a complaint against the person or as a dismissal that my idea of being my authentic self in the moment was just a bad one.

 

What happens then?

Well, that’s how we get to harbouring ill-feelings or nursing frustrations against a boss, a colleague, a friend or our partner because we decided they couldn’t get our message before we even tried to send it.  That’s how we end up not getting a pay raise; and how we end up alienating ourselves from our partner; and how we end up shelving wonderful projects that would have allowed us to reveal our unique talents.

 

That’s how we miss living the best possible version of our lives.

It takes courage to change that. It’s not epic, and it’s not one grandiose moment.  It’s a series of small, day-to-day decisions that move us through fear, discomfort and excuses into a better reality.

 

Simon breaks it down into his model of the A B, C of courage:

A – Authenticity:  What do you need to say or do right now to be your authentic self?

B – Belief: What is the limiting belief that stops you from expressing this aspect of your authentic self that you can now realise, and then let go of?

C – Crazy action: What small, but significant action can you take right now to move past those limits and act in the interests of your authentic self.  Don’t just think about it.  Go against the odds that you perceive, and do it. That’s what crazy action means.  Take chances.  Go beyond your rationalisations and excuses.

 

When you master the A,B,C of courage in just one aspect of your life, you will see how you can apply it again and again, to greater and greater effect.  Courage is simple.  It starts with you.  It is effective from the moment you take that small step of deciding to be courageous.

 

INSPIRING TRANSFORMATION is the theme for the annual Psychology Festival of Learning, which will be hosted by SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology) at their Johannesburg campus on 19 and 20 May and at their Cape Town campus on 26 and 27 September.

 

The 2016 festival includes a short talk programme (evening) and a day programme.

Johannesburg Programme

Thursday, 19 May: Short Talk Programme (evening) – R200-00

Friday, 20 May:  Full-Day Programme – R200-00

Student tickets for both events are R80-00

 

Cape Town Programme

Thursday, 26 May:  Short Talk Programme (evening) – R200-00

Friday, 27 May: Full-Day Programme  – R200-00

Student tickets for both events are R80-00

 

Tickets for the Psychology Festival of Learning as well as the programme with speakers details and topics are available on the website: www.psychologyfestival.co.za

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