Courage – Choosing Freedom and Authenticity in Service of Others

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela



Courage is One of my favourite values. It conjures up images from the movie “Braveheart”, burly warriors running into war with loud battle cries… Valiant, Fearless, Ready for anything… Bring it!!!!


What do you do when paralysing fear strikes?

A big leap awaits but your legs won’t work?

You embark on the path you want but the intensity of the challenge ahead engulfs you in a complete fog of fear.

Flashes of past failures overwhelm your mind immersing you in a fresh experience of the old pain.

“You are delusional.” “You will never succeed.” “You have ruined it all.” “You are a failure.” “Your dreams are a waste of time.” “Get real.” “You are not good enough!”

Maybe the naysayers and detractors are right. Maybe you are wasting your time. Maybe you should just give up on your goals, dreams and desires. Settle for the mediocre, the safe, the familiar.

After all “everyone is doing it”, right?

Yet, the ideas and dreams plague you. They come whispering, cajoling, insisting, yelling… At 3 am, they plead, “Do not waste your life.”

Maybe you’ve read scripture. Maybe you’ve read about Joseph. His life intensely resonant with his enthusiastic faith in the inevitability of his dreams and the nearly fatal derision of his brothers. He was thrown in pit, sold into slavery, accused falsely, imprisoned but became second in command in to Pharaoh, leading to the salvation of his own family, the same brothers who tried to destroy him.

And you think,” that is really hard. I am not sure I want to go through that? It sounds like pure hell!”

So, how do you show up after failure? Where do you find the courage? Why should you indeed get back up and try again?

Courage derived from the French word “coeur” for heart. It implies an ability to face risks with an open, bare heart. It is the willingness to be vulnerable.

Showing up, letting others see your heart is courageous.

Courage is a choice. You can feel the fear, and still chose courage. Many of us wait for the paralysis of fear to go away. It won’t. Choosing courage and taking action is the antidote. The fear will still be there but it will rendered ineffective.

In the Daring Way curriculum based on Brene Brown’s research, Courage comprises of 5 parts:

  1. Asking for what you need.
  2. Speaking your truth.
  3. Owning your story.
  4. Setting boundaries.
  5. Reaching out for support.

Courage is liberating. It frees us to show up authentically. To show up over and over again even after massive failure. Even in the face of uncertainty. It means taking that risk. You can choose courage or comfort. You can not  choose both.

Even deeper than the question of how to show up, is the reason why.

Why show up at all?

It is scary to show up as yourself. It is scary to share your desires, dreams and goals. It is scary to vulnerably show your heart. You risk rejection, mockery, devaluation, shame. But you also risk connection, growth, freedom, fulfilment, positive outcomes which can feel scary to some.

The alternative, not choosing courage, is even scarier. Getting to the end of your life realising you have been living a lie, you have been pretending to be something you are not, spending a whole life in mediocrity, not sharing your gifts and talents in service to the world, not living any of your God-given callings…

The key lies in a deeper why. What is important to you? What are your values? Why are you here on the planet? What is your purpose? What are you curious about? Who suffers when you hide in the shadows? Whom are you robbing when you hide your gifts and talents?

Altruism or service to others is important to me. So it’s not enough to have the courage and freedom to authentically share my story, own it, express boundaries etc.

I am always thinking about my why. Why share? I have never been motivated by attention – attention has always come naturally for me so if anything I learned to shy away from it. I am not particularly interested in fame or massive wealth. Not saying I would turn away the wealth! lol I have student loans to pay off!

But My main motivation has always been service. I want to make a positive impact in the world.  So the questions that drive me surround this passion for service. How do I serve others by sharing my story? How do I create a sense of validation, empathy, affirmation, belonging and common humanity? How do I honor God with the gifts and talents He has given to me?

So, doing the internal work is critical.

Inner work is hard. It was easy, everyone would be on the path. But doing the work is worth it because it frees you to do what you are here to do.

The resistance, the fear, the self-doubt can create a crisis of confidence.

But you can choose. You can choose Courage or Comfort. But you can’t have both.

This is hard stuff. But we can do hard things.

I am choosing courage. How about you?

See you next time!

Cultivating Courage: Choosing Freedom and Authenticity in Service of Others

  1.  What do you need? What do you really, really need?
  2. In what ways will you ask for what you need?
  3. Whom will you ask for support so you can practice courage?
  4. What story do you need or want to share?
  5. What parts of your story have you disowned and need to reclaim?
  6. What boundaries do you need in place so you can practice courage and other values you hold dear?
  7. In what ways will you choose freedom and authenticity in service of others?

Courage is the twin of vulnerability. Choosing courage helps us live the lives that we truly want to live. Getting to the fruits we desire requires daring to go out on a limb. You might risk falling out of the tree, or the branch breaking but you could also risk actually getting the fruit you seek. So, courage or comfort?


Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to cultivate and grow into her ideals with her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her Daily Haikus (#HaikuRx) and her lessons along the way (Mondays and Thursdays), she hopes to serve and inspire a growing tribe of wholehearted Thriving Idealists like you, to “live your ideals, thrive in your callings and positively change the world.”


Courage – Showing Up after Life’s Strippings, Knock-Downs and Falls. (Preview)

“Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: It’s the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

How do you return after a fall?

This post is my imperfect attempt to do just that. It will be raw and unedited so please forgive the quality.

I have been trying to return to my blog after a traumatic event. At first, I tried to write as usual without addressing my absence. But it felt off. I couldn’t find my groove. I was completely blocked. I still don’t feel ready to talk about what happened but I will scratch the surface in my efforts to move forward. I am still doing the heartwork behind the scenes.

In November 2015, I suffered a physically, emotionally and mentally traumatic event. I couldn’t shut down since I had my kids who were dependent on me. But it completely stunned me and my haikus stopped.

I had moved across the country from Baltimore, Maryland to North San Diego County, California in August 31st. And for about 10 weeks, went through an incredibly humiliating experience which culminated in an event which raised concerns for my physical safety. I wasn’t ready to talk about it on the blog but I didn’t want to give up writing. Still I lost my desire to create. so my writing stopped.

Being an avid reader,  I read several books to help me recover – Presence by Amy Cuddy, the Bible, Rising Strong etc.

The timing of Rising Strong by Brene Brown couldn’t have been more perfect. As a Daring Way Facilitator, I am required to keep up with all continuing education training from the Daring Way. The latest book, Rising Strong, was exactly what I needed for this season in my life. I devoured the book and immersed myself in the facilitator’s curriculum and trainings, learning how to deal with failure and how to rise strong from muddy faceplants. I rumbled with different emotions – grief, forgiveness, anger, fear, despair. I faced the truth about my situation. I reached out to a few close friends for help. I cried. I prayed. And I worked on reclaiming my own story

November to January 2016 would prove to be the lowest season of my life. I had lost nearly everything I held dear. I faced my deepest fears, fatal blows to my reputation,  financial despondence, alienation and abandonment.

But through all of it, I felt a supernatural grace. I had everything I needed. New opportunities showed up. New allies, old friends… all the support I needed showed up at just the right time. I am immensely grateful to God for carrying me through it.

However, I was in the pit and had to dig myself out.

I had stopped building my coaching, facilitation and advocacy practice for the cross-country move. I began coaching. Took on a research position. And began slowly writing again on Facebook including a countdown of 40 posts for my 40th birthday, a series of short stories for a round robin group and some thoughts on racial injustice and my discomfort with talking about race. I even published an article on Meditation in Radiant Health, a health magazine for the Global African Diaspora.


The recent series of violent events around racial injustice have reminded me of the importance to using my voice no matter how imperfect or flawed it feels.

Life is short.

I love writing. I can’t let my falls and failures keep me from showing up on my own blog no matter how imperfectlyf.

I am still covered in mud. I am still on my knees, crawling my way out. But I am no longer face-down, no longer paralyzed by shame for my fall.

I hope it sticks this time. If not, I will keep on trying. I will keep on showing up until I regain my groove.

See you next time!


Reflections on Courage : Showing up after Life’s Strippings, Knock-Downs and Falls

  1. When was the last time you faced a stripping or faceplant?
  2. How did you navigate through it?
  3. If you are in a difficult season right now, how are you doing?
  4.  In what ways can you reach out for support?
  5. How do you feel about showing up imperfectly? a
  6. How have your failures paralyzed you?
  7. In what ways can you take imperfect action today?


Yvonne Whitelaw writes for where she blogs about her quest to cultivate and grow into her ideals with her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her Daily Haikus (#HaikuRx) and her lessons along the way (Mondays and Thursdays), she hopes to serve and inspire a growing tribe of wholehearted idealists like you, to “live your ideals, thrive in your calling and positively change the world.”