In our last +1, we spent some time with one of my heroes, Admiral William H. McRaven as we soaked our souls in wisdom from his newest book: The Hero Code.
As you may recall, McRaven’s Hero Code has ten core virtues: Courage. Humility. Sacrifice. Integrity. Compassion. Perseverance. Duty. Hope. Humor. Forgiveness.
Today I want to talk about the #1 virtue: COURAGE.
Let’s talk about one of THE most powerful ways to operationalize that virtue.
Here’s how Admiral McRaven puts it: “None of us are immune from life’s pain and disappointment. But if you doubt for even a second that you have the courage necessary to confront the evil in the world or that weakness that resides deep inside all of us—you’re wrong. ...
We all have our lines in the sand, those fears that keep us from being courageous. But all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward. Just one. Take one step forward and get on the helicopter. Take one step forward and fight injustice. Take one step forward and challenge the bullies. Take one step forward and face your inner demons. And if you take that one step forward you will find the courage you seek, the courage necessary to overcome your fears and be the hero you long to be.”
As we’ve discussed many times, the word courage comes from the same root as heart. Just as the heart pumps blood to your arms and legs and vital organs, courage is the virtue that vitalizes all the other virtues.
The best way to cultivate our courage?
Science agrees with McRaven’s approach.
As we discuss in our Notes on The Courage Quotient by Robert Biswas-Diener, we need to be willing to act in the presence of fear.
And, as we discuss in various places we need to APPROACH our challenges rather than AVOID them.
As McRaven puts it: “all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward.”
One of the (many!) reasons I love creating these +1s and the Notes is that I get to go back through my favorite passages and, as I type each word out, really *feel* the intention and the nuance of the author’s wisdom.
As I typed that passage out, I was struck by the way McRaven emphasized “Just one.”
“We all have our lines in the sand, those fears that keep us from being courageous. But all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward. Just one.”
When we face the inevitable obstacles and challenges of life and feel the inevitable fears that arise in those situations, all we need to do is take JUST ONE step forward.
JUST ONE step forward in that moment when you tend to freeze or to freak out.
JUST ONE step forward—approaching your challenges rather than avoiding them.
JUST ONE step forward—saying “Bring it on!” rather than “Make it go away!”
That is the essence of courage.
A willingness to act in the presence of fear, to APPROACH rather than avoid our challenges—not once in a while or when you feel like it but more and more consistently all day every day ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it—knowing that your infinite, HEROIC potential exists just on the other side of your comfort zone as you cultivate the strength for two and give us all you’ve got.
Let’s take JUST ONE step forward today, my beloved Hero.
Just one step forward.
+1. +1. +1.
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