Curious about women and courage, everyday courage or how to apply courageous leadership--this is the blog for you. No sensational stories, heroism or drama, just the understanding of how to apply courage at work or in your personal life. There is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient. What would you do right now if you had "unlimited courage?" Do you have courage?

Practicing Spiritual Courage to find the Answers

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Looking to retire? New job? Want to transition to something new?  First, startpractice contemplation by asking yourself some good questions:

•  Do you seek security through an attachment to your home?

•  Your ethnic group? Your denomination? Your job title?

•  Do you have a staunch attachment to some belief that prevents you from manifesting your courage?

After sixteen years of extensive and original research on a simple word, " courage," I have been amazed how people have difficulty embracing and applying the original definition of courage (“heart and spirit”). We have not had a tool that concretely defines the actions of courage such as simply being able to give yourself permission to claim your personal courage. Our culture is trapped in attachments such as being “busy” and having stuff. Just reflect on how often throughout the day you say, “I am so busy.”

The dilemma starts with a slogan I use in my training programs that reflects a cultural mantra: “have, do, be.” Merging your professional and personal life you will find that with courage, you are able to transcend “have, do, be” to one of “be, do, have.” In the spirit of “be, do, have” you are making a gift of your life and ultimately, that choice touches all of mankind. This is not an easy task when our society values what you have and what you do.

This type of spiritual learning does not happen intellectually. It cannot be learned from a Roman numeral outline that requires you to follow the details sequentially or from a form that requires you to fill in the blanks. Processing content details is the opposite of a contemplative lifestyle. Contemplation means non-attachment. Therein lies the sacredness of the small things in life.

Cultivate a Contemplative Dimension

So to begin this type of learning, you need to cultivate a contemplative dimension grounded in a practical conviction of Being. In spiritual courage, there is acceptance in every circumstance, including death. Acceptance should not be confused with resignation, but rather the ability to accept what is at the moment. You can do this by asking a couple of questions:

  • “What can I control at this moment?” The cosmic joke is “nothing” (other than acceptance, free of struggle, judgments and angst) and,
  • “What prompted me to create this circumstance?”

A person aligned with his or her true Self accepts rather than resists the answers. They give their fullest attention to their emotions and what lies underneath them. An example would be feeling anger. Anger (not aggression) is an attitude that offers an opportunity to be vulnerable in heartfelt courage. Is frustration underneath the anger? Unrealistic demands on oneself or others? This practice represents spiritual maturity and being present is the gateway to spiritual development.

Attachment Traps (old French, attaché, meaning “nailed to.”)

A contemplative life may include a meditation practice keenly aligned with reflection. This spiritual commitment to reflection resides in simplicity and yields a harmonious and natural life. Probably the biggest trap to this lifestyle approach is attachments. Attachment, like the word courage, is old French, attaché, meaning “nailed to.” If instead we choose an appreciation for the present, we will not be nailed to future “things” that might seduce us to think we have that illusive control. Besides, every day is a day of uncertainty. Only the ego mistakenly believes that you have a schedule set in stone when you walk out the door. Why? The ego strives for certainty.

Letting go of attachments to outcomes diminishes the unhealthy desires and emotional ups and downs that start to move you to your heart or true Self. This work becomes easier when courage actions are implemented such as self-discipline to refine your inner observer or simply a declaration that you will give yourself permission to claim your courage. The heart matures during different stages of courage development. Soon you begin to diminish the distortions of the false self witnessed as “instant opinions.”

For example, your relationship with work is a deeply personal choice. You may be vacillating about retiring during economic uncertainty, but as your courage consciousness matures you will notice huge shifts in your perspective about fear, blame or how to transition to a new phase in life. Lack of courage stymies a positive shift in behavior.

Attachments, whether to material items or social values, may make you feel safe and comfortable, yet they limit your spontaneous enjoyment of new experiences in the present moment. Ironically, in order to step up in your life or your career, you must first delve deeper into your true Self to find a solid foundation that supports living a courageous life.

Ask yourself:

•  Do you hover in scarcity mentality and unconsciously stay attached to the almighty paycheck while your dreams wither for lack of spiritual nourishment?

•  Are you willing to let go of your possessive attitude toward everything?

•  What do you pine for?

Try making a list of the things to which you are attached. Review your list and assess where and how these attachments found a home in your psyche. Stopping is the tool to eliminate this draining energy, and learning to become indifferent to the outcome should not be confused with loss of spirit or passion. Spirit and passion remain constant, only regrets diminish. Non-attachment centers you in Being and all its daily joy.

The decision to be content with only the material world or to strive after the spiritual world is always your choice. As one dear friend said at the last stages of her life, “Honey, you ever seen a U-Haul truck pull up with the Hearst?”

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, trainer and courage coach. She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman (2001), the follow-up book STUCK 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder (2010) and the recently released FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011). She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit www.sandrawalston.com.

Watch this YouTube: Courageous Leadership

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© Sandra Walston

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Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™, is an international speaker and author, human potential consultant, corporate trainer and certified coach. Sandra’s expertise allows her to focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition through recognizing and interpreting courage behaviors and courageous leadership styles.


 


Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra also provides skills-based programs for some of the most respected public and private blue-chip businesses and organizations in the world, such as IBM, Caterpillar, Inc., Institute of Internal Auditors, Hensel Phelps, Wide Open West, Agrium, Inc., Virginia Commonwealth University, Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, Procter and Gamble, Hitachi Consulting, US Bank, Healthcare Association of New York State, Institute of Management Accountants, and Delta Kappa Gamma International Society.


 


The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman and an honored author selected for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups to discover the power and inspiration of their everyday courage.


 


The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women, Sandra’s follow-up book to COURAGE, is directed at any woman, regardless of title or credentials, who wishes to grow professionally by introducing courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond confirms that what holds you back on the job is the same as what hinders achievement—the reluctance to face and live a courageous life. Sandra is published in magazines such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development, HR Matters, Malaysia, and Strategic Finance.


 


Sandra is a certified Newfield Network coach and certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® along with the Enneagram. She also instructs at the University of Denver.


 


She can be reached at www.sandrawalston.com where she posts a courage blog and courage newsletter.

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