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A Life Well Lived Is a Life of Courage

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues,

because it allows us to practice the others with integrity."

- Maya Angelou

Last week, my friend moved her 92-year-old mother into a seniors home. This was, as you can imagine, a huge moment for the entire family. The day after the move, my friend showed me a picture of her mother sitting on a sofa in her new room. Mom was wearing a red sweater and sat with a nice straight back, smiling gamely for the camera. She’s a pretty woman. But her most defining characteristic in that moment was the look of quiet determination on her face.

And I thought, what a lovely gift my friend’s mom has been given – the opportunity to be brave, even at this time in her life.

And she took it.

Somewhat traumatized by the move, my friend and her sister visited their mom the next morning. And there she was, sitting with a half-dozen or so other little old ladies, having tea and laughing. Mom was getting on with it. And in doing so, she was reminding my friend and her sister that a life well lived, is a life of courage.

Now think about your own life.

Are you scaring yourself on a regular basis? Or are you sitting on the sidelines, perhaps even judging those who try and fail? The most miserably stuck and frustrated people I know are those who never scare themselves.

We’re used to seeing the courage of soldiers or first responders during times of strife and tragedy. But the thing about courage is that it’s all around us all the time.

I bet you’ve encountered at least some of these brave people (or dogs) in the past month:

  • An immigrant who is still mastering English serving your fast food lunch.

  • A woman heavily pregnant with her first child.

  • A new colleague on their first day at a job.

  • An extreme introvert at an office party.

  • A child on her first day at a new school.

  • A puppy learning to navigate stairs or entering the dog park for the first time.

As a coach, I get to see courage every day. I saw it in my unemployed client who, while teetering on the brink of bankruptcy applied for over 400 jobs before reaching success with number 393. I saw it in the client who took a leap and moved her family to a new city so that she could pursue work that was more aligned with her values. And I see it in my client who is grieving the recent loss of his wife while planning for a hopeful and fulfilling future.

There’s so much beauty in courage.

Go look for it. Get greedy for it. Let it inspire you.

And then, get ready to scare yourself, even if just a little.

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