|I started writing this newsletter last week and struggled through five clunky drafts to get here. |
I wanted to write something meaningful about courage— something that would inspire you. The topic felt especially timely and important.
My first draft was about where courage comes from and whether we’re born with it or if it’s learned.
My second draft was about two different kinds of courage.
My third draft was advice "borrowed" from the queen of courage, Brené Brown.
My fourth draft was all of those previous drafts mashed up.
My fifth draft was all of those previous drafts mashed up, and rearranged.
None of them worked. None of them offered any new insights on the topic. Nothing I wrote seemed good enough.
With every new draft, I felt more and more like an imposter. I went from "I’ve got something meaningful to share." to "I suck at this." (Anyone else recognize that inner critic?)
Ironically, during the messy process of trying to share my thoughts about courage, I lost my courage.
. . .Finally, when I could no longer stand being tormented by my own inner critic, I did what every smart person does. Quit.
Yes, I did. But only long enough to take a walk and try to figure out why my ideas about this topic are so hard to express.
And then I realized I was right in the middle of my own death spiral of fear. And fear is courage's kryptonite.
I realized my experience writing this newsletter is the perfect example of how courage can so easily be diminished when we let other voices into our head.
Courage can be fleeting and temporary.
Courage is fluid. It comes and goes. That is normal. But when it's gone, we forget we ever had it. When it's gone, we feel less worthy. Or totally not worthy.
The trick is to not give up. Keep doing what you do until the courage comes back. And be ok with shitty drafts. Lots of them. But keep going.
Yes, you may fail. Yes, you may embarrass yourself. Yes, you may publish a meaningless newsletter. So what?
That's not a reflection of who you are. It's simply a reflection of your willingness to show up and be seen, flaws and all. And that is the very definition of courage.
Keep doing that thing you want to be doing, and the courage will catch up.
. . .Courage is a life-long dance with vulnerability. Before you can dance, you’ve got to show up to the party and get on the dance floor.
That’s the hard part. Sometimes simply showing up is the best you can do.
Sometimes you’ll show up and people won’t be happy to see you.
Sometimes people will say heartless things about you.
Sometimes your own inner critic will say heartless things about you.
It’s all part of the dance. Learning when (and to whom) we can expose our tender souls is an important part of learning how to be more consistently courageous.
I love this from Seth Godin:
"What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master? And what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with defeat?"I can share my flaws and shortcomings with you, my More Heart family, because we’ve created a safe space and we're part of a caring, loving community. I can tell you the truth about this newsletter, that I had something else in mind, and that it didn't work out the way I had hoped.
I can be courageous with you here, not because I've mastered the art of courage (I haven't), but because I'm willing to practice being open and vulnerable. I'm willing to show you the real me. Risky. But rewarding.
Showing up, sharing our dreams and fears and desires with people who can see and love us, flaws and all, is the most powerful kind of courage.
This kind of courage can change a person’s life in a heartbeat.
This kind of courage can change the world.
This kind of courage can get a newsletter published. 🙂
Love you guys. Thanks for reading.
PS. If you’d like to go down the rabbit hole of courage, here are a few links you may enjoy:
And if you've ever experienced the hurculean amount of courage it takes to offer a genuine apology, you will appreciate this
two-episode masterclass from Brené Brown's podcast, Unlocking Us. It's a gem. I listened twice to each episode.
Image: From The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc.
Delightful summary by Maria Popova.