“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” - Anaïs Nin
Sometimes people say things to me like, "You're so brave." Or "I wish I had your courage."
In truth though, I'm not an especially courageous person. I come face to face with my own fears almost every day. But what I do have is a secret about courage that might make me look braver than I am. And it's that secret I want to share with you today, so that you too can live a life that look and feels courageous, even when you're full of fear.
It's 7am and I've just arrived at the outdoor pool for my morning swim. These morning swims have become such an important part of my week and I feel great starting the day off this way. But whilst I may be in California, believe me, that water is getting cold.
As I strip down to my bikini, look out at the water, and feel the cold morning air all around me, the last thing I want to do is get into that pool.
I start by tip toeing down the steps in the shallow end, little by little immersing my legs into the water. This part isn't so bad, but when my feet leave the last step and the water creeps up to my waist, my mouth opens in a silent gasp. It's seriously freezing in here!
Now I'm standing, back to the pool edge, facing out at the length of the pool. The thought of plunging in there makes me think of curling back up in bed beneath the sheets.
For the next ten seconds, I fight a mini war inside my head. One half of me wants to swim. The other wants anything other than to submerge the rest of my body into the freezing cold water. But then, in a split second, the part of me that came here to swim wins out and before I know it I'm beneath the water, legs kicking. I'm off!
Even before I've finished the first lap, the water no longer feels cold and the next hour passes quickly. In the end, actually, I don't even want to get out and so I spend a few minutes floating on my back, looking up at the blue sky and trees, proud of myself for plunging into those icy depths.
The secret about courage
And so here it is, the secret about courage...
You don't need to be a courageous person to dive into a freezing cold pool.
You don't need to be a courageous person to quit your job.
You don't need to be a courageous person to have your first ever paid coaching session with a client.
You don't need to be a courageous person to run your first workshop.
You don't need to be a courageous person to do anything, actually.
The only thing you need is ten seconds of courage to get you over the start line.
Ten seconds to dive into the pool.
Ten seconds to knock on your manager's door and hand her/him your letter of resignation.
Ten seconds to click the "call" button on Skype.
Ten seconds to start talking at your first workshop.
Ten seconds. That's all it takes to potentially change the course of your life. Ten seconds of courage.
And after that, you don't need courage, because in those ten seconds you've created momentum and movement that will carry you forwards. You're already in the water so now you want to continue. You're in the water and it's not so cold after all. You're in the water and you don't want to get out.
Living a courageous life comes down to a series of ten second decisions. Each time there's a new edge to lean in to; a line to cross; a new mountain to climb; a new decision to make, you don't need to be a courageous person, you only need to summon ten seconds of courage to get across the starting line. And that's something we can all do.
Your ten seconds of courage
We're all holding back. We all have something that we either want or need to do but we haven't quite managed to do it because we don't quite have the courage. But stop thinking that you need to be a courageous person. You don't. You just have to be a person with the ten second secret. And now you are. You have the ten second secret and you can thank me later. Now you only have to be a person who can summon ten seconds of courage to cross the start line.
So whether it's quitting a job you know it's time to quit.
Or signing up to a new class or course that you've been meaning to do ages but have been holding back through fear.
Or writing a blog post you've been holding back on (or starting a blog).
Or launching a new product or programme or idea.
Or making a proposal to a potential client.
Or running your first workshop.
Or reaching out to someone new.
Now is the time to put the secret into action. Now is the time to call forth those ten seconds of courage. Now is the time to dive in. Now is the time to kick your legs and move forwards. Now is the time to create some momentum and movement in your life.
Because I promise, once you do that; once you cross that starting line, you're going to feel so proud of yourself. You're going to feel powerful. You're going to feel a crazy sense of pride and accomplishment and aliveness. You're going to be that person to whom other people say, "wow, you have so much courage."
And then you can share the secret with them too. And maybe you'll be that person who helps nudge them over their own starting line and towards a life in which they're no longer holding back, but stepping every day instead in to their potential.
There'll be a next time, of course. There'll be lots of times on your journey when you have to summon those ten seconds of courage. But once you know the secret, it's yours to keep.
Over to you...
Blog posts without comments are like swimming pools without water - ouf, so painful. So add your voice to the comments below and share:
- What have you been holding back on? And when will you summon your ten seconds of courage?
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With love and courage,