So, what exactly is courage? Is it the absence of fear?
No, philosopher Brian Johnson tells us. It’s feeling the fear… And then getting on with it. Doing what needs to be done.
Brian argues this is the mindset to cultivate as we show up in life. Yes, there will be challenges. Expect obstacles, he tells us. Then, get on with it. Feel the fear. Then, do what needs to be done.
Doing so requires courage, which Aristotle tells us is the most important of all human virtues.
Our mindset determines how we experience life. An example? Stress. If we think stress is harmful, it is. If we choose to see stress as giving us the energy and motivation to face the situation at hand, it is. How we choose to view stress impacts our experience of stress, writes Kelly McGonigal in her powerful book The Upside of Stress.
When we find ourselves facing a challenge or obstacle, instead of thinking: “Win or Lose,” we can choose to think: “Win or Learn.” Brian suggests we see ourselves as scientists, wearing lab coats, running experiments, looking for data on what works and what doesn’t. Doing so allows us to approach our mistakes with curiosity. Then, we apply what we learned. Not everything we do will work out beautifully. In fact, few things will… at first. But each time we stumble, we learn. We improve. We get better.
Brian gives us a specific strategy to access our courage. Ask: “What’s Important now?” “What needs to get done?” Next, stand up straight. Breathe deeply. Then say: “Bring it on!”
Reflection: Consider a current challenge or obstacle. What is my current mindset?
Action: Ask: “What’s Important now?” “What needs to get done?” Then, stand up straight. Breathe deeply. And say: “Bring it on!”