Making excuses is always easier than taking responsibility for delivering the difference you have decided on. By definition, making a difference means changing things to a new state. Courage is almost always required to make this happen, because there are vested interests in keeping things the way they are.
People who want to make a difference need courage to overcome difficulties and make things happen. Many of the reasons you need courage are directly involved in developing the other building blocks of character:
- To develop your character on a daily basis – to grow up, and move on from being frozen in childish irresponsibility. To give up the comfort blanket of blaming others, and taking responsibility for your attitudes and behaviour.
- To stand for something – and accepting the risks involved with going against the flow of popular opinion. You can’t just have honour, dignity and self-respect in private. You may have to assert them in public, under adverse circumstances.
- To be responsible for your hope, enthusiasm, self-confidence and energy. Comfort and security are not natural states, so we need to be able to operate effectively when they don’t exist.There are other powerful reasons you need courage:
- To get out of your comfort zone – often to fight against the great enemy of change – inertia. Making a difference can be inconvenient. Getting out of your comfort zone involves doing things you’d rather not do – like helping someone who is dying, or meeting new people to convince them of the need for change.
- To take charge – many situations where a difference needs to be made require leadership. You may need to step up to the plate and take charge of both people and events. It sounds scary – that’s why it needs courage. Your passion, combined with your courage, will carry you through, and after a short while it will come naturally.
- To cope with rejection – taking risks, initiating change, doing what is right, rather than what is convenient, increases the likelihood of rejection. When people defend the status quo, or their territory, they can get very aggressive in telling you what to do with the difference you want to make.
- To cope with failure – to fail is human, and the bigger the difference you are aiming to make, the bigger the chance of failure at some point in the process. You cannot avoid the sometimes gut-wrenching disappointment, so you need courage to recover faster, and learn your lessons. (“What does not kill me, strengthens me”)
- To hang in for the long term – Some differences don’t happen overnight. Whether you chose to be a Beneficial Presence, nursing someone with a longterm illness, or a Difference Deliverer, pushing for society to change its behaviour, you are in for the long haul. Looking back on it from a later date, it may not look like a very long haul, but at the time it may seem to go on forever. You will need courage to se it through.
- To be willing to stand alone –it may take time for the world to see the rightness, or the benefits, of what you are advocating or doing.
- To take action (or refuse to take action) – either way, doing something, or refusing to do something, is usually fundamental to making a difference. Making things happen requires courage and perseverance.
- To serve – the capacity to serve is the essence of most difference making, and is the mature and courageous response to the situation you find yourself in.
It takes guts not to take the easy way out. The courage to be generous and selfless – put the needs of others above those of yourself – is what defines Difference Deliverers, Difference Drivers, and, of course, Beneficial Presences. Read more about these categories of difference making here. To return to the Living Legacy click here.