Did You Lose Something?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

I recently listened to the Maxwell Leadership podcast and heard Mark Cole talk about discouragement. He mentioned that the word discourage has French roots and means to be deprived of courage. When we are discouraged, it’s not that something new has come into our lives but rather that we have lost something: our courage. You don’t find discouragement; you don’t enter into a discouraging situation; you lose your courage. The more I pondered this thought, the more convinced I was of its validity. Courage is that special something that helps us view challenges as opportunities. Courage shines the light of possibility on obstacles. Courage moves us from I can’t, toward how can I. Courage is what keeps us looking for the pony when all we smell is manure.

So where do we get more courage? I suppose we could be like the cowardly lion and travel to Oz with Dorothy, Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. Since I don’t know where to find them, here are a few tips I thought of to help grow courage:

Take Control of Your Thought Life – Years ago, a mentor of mine shared a teaching on the power of daily affirmations. I then developed 12 statements that I read each morning. The statements are not only affirming where I am today but affirm where and who I aspire to be tomorrow. Over time, these statements become a reality by shaping my mindset.

Try New Things – Someone once said, “Everything you want in life is just outside of your comfort zone.” What a true statement. We need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Discomfort drives growth. Whether we are starting a new exercise program or learning a new skill, it will always be uncomfortable. The bigger the challenge, the more discomfort. The more discomfort, the greater the growth. The greater the growth, the greater the courage.

Embrace Failure as a Friend – Please don’t misunderstand this point. I am not saying excuse failure; I am saying learn from it. Failure is a great learning opportunity. Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you try if you knew that you would learn something from it if you did fail? Learning from failure is completely up to you. You can go from failure to success, but you will never go from excuses to success.

There you have it—three ways to increase your courage. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. And don’t forget, when you smell the manure; the pony can’t be far away.