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Have you ever thought about what it means to be “uncommonly courageous”? Pastor Rick Warren defines “uncommon courage” as including these things:
- Speaking up for what you believe in
- Taking risks
- Picking yourself up after failure
I want to add in a few of my own:
- Investing in yourself even when people think you’re crazy or irresponsible
- Moving past painful experiences
- Holding yourself accountable for the things you do and say
- Setting and reaching goals that stretch your imagination and abilities
- Stepping out in faith to do the scary things anyway
- Working towards success despite being afraid of it
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, being afraid and doing it anyway.
How many of us want to feel secure in our lives, but are too afraid to take action on what could get us there?
How many of us are stuck in terrible, underpaying jobs, and have accepted it as our “lot in life” based on external circumstances or experiences?
And how many of us fear success more than we fear failure?
Let me break down my perspective for both Pastor Warren’s and my thoughts on “uncommon courage.”
Speaking Up for What You Believe In
I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
It’s that simple.
Is it scary to say that?
But it’s necessary.
Speaking up against those who malign my faith is scary, difficult, and uncomfortable.
It’s uncommonly courageous.
I’ve always admired the people who can stand in front of huge crowds and proclaim their faith. They’re the inspirations–the ones who are taking the leap to stand up for what they believe in.
Safe bets rarely come with big payoffs.
Caitlin Pyle took a big risk when she created her flagship course, Proofread Anywhere. She gave herself a painfully small window of six months to be successful–and made it.
When becoming a Virtual Assistant, Gina Horkey tells her students to give themselves two years before giving up.
Two years is a big risk!
But the payoff is huge.
Taking risks like this is uncommonly courageous, because it forces us out of our comfort zones.
Moving Past Painful Experiences
Holding on to the past is tempting and feels good in the moment. But the longer we hold on to things that hurt us in the past, the more likely we are to never move forward with the rest of our lives.
- Wallowing for years post-breakup
- Never letting go of resentment towards former friends
- Holding grudges against people who have wronged you (and most likely have forgotten all about it).
Letting these things go means telling yourself (and believing) that you’re better off without those negative thoughts.
It’s uncommonly courageous to muster up and learn from the pain instead of giving in to it.
Picking Yourself Up After Failure
This one takes a big mindset shift.
I don’t really believe that failure exists unless you let it become a permanent state. Every “failure” is just an opportunity to learn from it and make a different, better choice later.
Quitting is more of a failure than doing something wrong and learning from it.
So why does it take “uncommon courage” to pick yourself up after a failure?
Because failures hurt. They count as painful experiences. Licking your wounds feels good for a while, but then it festers.
It eats away at you.
Investing in Yourself Even When People Think You’re Crazy or Irresponsible
Social acceptance is important for us as humans. When we take the risk–the leap–to try something out of the box, people get spooked.
Part of the problem is people not understanding the difference between “spending” and “investing.”
Spending money gets you things that don’t eventually “pay for themselves.” It’s pretty much a one-and-done deal, like buying groceries or paying rent.
Investing, on the other hand, brings a return with it. A reward.
- The stock market
“Spending” money on some kinds of investments feels weird and unacceptable to some people, like buying an online course on time management or spending money on a life coach or a productivity bootcamp.
I think this is “uncommonly courageous” because it sets us outside of not only our comfort zones but also the comfort zones of our social circles.
Unless you have really chill friends.
Holding Yourself Accountable for All the Things You Do and Say
At the end of July 2018, I made a public post on Medium and my personal Facebook page that I would write 1000 words a day in August.
I knew that if I didn’t make it public, I’d be more likely to flake and disappoint myself. Disappointing myself feels bad, but disappointing others feels worse to me. There’s a reason “public accountability” is part of Demir & Carey Bentley’s 4 Layers of Accountability.
Social pressure is one of the things that motivates us to get shit done!
It’s uncommonly courageous to do this because our social media lives are perfectly curated to show exactly what we want to show. When things don’t go as planned we’re less likely to fess up on Facebook if we didn’t tell people about it before.
Setting and Reaching Goals that Stretch Your Imagination and Abilities
Never challenging ourselves to grow, improve, create, and innovate sets us up for regret later.
- “I’ve always wanted to publish a book, but it’s so hard.”
- “I know I need to lose all this weight, but I’ve tried before and just can’t.”
- “It would be nice to have that person’s life. I bet they’ve got it all figured out.”
- “I wish I could travel the world, but it’s so expensive and ain’t nobody got the vacation time for dat.”
How many of those sound like you?
Can you count the things you’d regret NOT doing when you come to the end of your life?
Make those your big goals.
Crossing them off will be uncommonly courageous.
Stepping Out in Faith to Do the Scary Things Anyway
It’s scary to do things you’re scared of. Doing them anyway is an act of faith.
Faith that you CAN do it, even if you fall down the first twenty times.
Taking risks, leaps, and chances is scary.
Ruth Soukup has a fantastic podcast on this very subject, called Do It Scared.
Have you ever done something scared? Didn’t the results make you feel fantastic, and make you wonder why you ever felt scared in the first place?
As if your success had been guaranteed?
That’s doing it scared. And it’s uncommonly courageous.
Working Towards Success Despite Being Afraid of It
Being afraid of success is a weird one.
I never understood this one until early 2018, even though I’d been sabotaging my own success by fearing it for so long.
What if I do succeed? Will I be able to handle it? Would my friends and family stay with me, support me, and help me? Will it fulfill me to succeed?
These questions and more plague those of us scared of succeeding.
Every now and then I get an overwhelming feeling of anxiety about possible future success.
What if I wake up tomorrow with hundreds of subscribers and more traffic than my website can handle? I’m afraid that I’d freeze up not knowing what to do and whether I’d be able to prove to those hypothetical people that yes, I totally deserve having their email addresses.
This is pretty much the same as “doing it scared,” but in the context of succeeding.
Consider choosing one (or a combination) of these uncommonly courageous practices to implement in your own life.
Try it for about 66 days, and then evaluate how much better your life gets.