“I learned courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

What a quote from the late Nelson Mandela (pictured). When I first saw it, it inspired me. It grabbed hold of me and compelled me to respond. It’s one of those quotes which makes all of us stop in our tracks.

Because it’s true. 

When he said this, Mandela was acknowledging not only that we all have fears. But arguing these fears don’t ever go away. They don’t disappear.

We will still experience fear. Deep in our soul, fear still exists.

Then it hit me. To be courageous doesn’t mean we stop being afraid. It’s because we’re afraid courage is so powerful.

And it’s in the moment we keep going despite being afraid, we discover courage. (you can tweet that here)

You see, courage takes the power of fear and transforms it for good. And courage lurks inside us all. The power to overcome our darkest fears. It is harder to embrace courage than give in to fear, because courage involves risk. It could involve suffering or sacrifice, choosing suffering over comfort.

Fear on the other hand, isn’t risky. We retreat into our fears. We give into them easily. We grant them power over us.  I know, because I’ve been an expert at this.

And it’s one of the greatest lies of all.

Think of things you are terrified of.  Spiders? Heights? Death? Losing a loved one?

Most fears come from within us. For example, when I stand high up, on the edge of a building or cliff, my body seizes up, it freezes, I feel out of control of my body, about to fall. But in my mind, I’m not afraid of falling, or being up high. The thought of it doesn’t terrify me. However, something in my subconscious feels fear.

But I’m not going to let it control me. I’ve learned to step outside of that bodily feeling in my subconscious. I will still go up high, I will still go and look out from great heights.

It might be tough. But I will go to the top. One day, maybe I’ll look out from the top of the Empire State Building, the Shard, or the Grand Canyon (maybe them all) – and although my body will want to fall over, my mind will be clear.

I will have overcome fear.

But a fear of heights is one thing. Fear of being hurt, being a failure? That’s another.

Overcoming The Big Fears

ow300-look2Now overcoming a fear of heights is one thing. But quite another is overcoming bigger, deeper fears – of losing someone, of being hurt again.

Giving into those kind of fears can lead to others being hurt. This kind of fear leads to us being overprotective or controlling, or distance ourselves from everyone. We never having any kind of relationship and break people’s hearts.

And like my fear of heights, these fears can be overcome too. But instead of trying to destroy them, we must instead choose to acknowledge them, and battle through. To refuse them. To deny them oxygen. To never allow them control.

We must recognise when they attack, and in that moment, choose courage instead. To choose to rise above fear and triumph over it. To become greater than our fears.

For much of my life, I’ve been a coward. I’ve ducked away from the tough choices, I’ve made excuses instead of taking responsibility, and I’ve run away from self-discipline. I’ve given in to fear way too easily, and let it control my life.

But this ends now. As my one word for 2014 is courage. This year, I’m going to embrace the tough choices, stop making excuses, and be willing to make sacrifices. I won’t get it right all the time, I’m sure. But I know I can, and will, become a bit more courageous. And fear won’t control me quite as much.

None of this is easy. That’s why we call it courage. It’s difficult. But this year I choose to be a person of courage. No longer to live according to fear.

Are you with me?


Do you agree or disagree with me? Why?

How can you be more courageous in your own life?

What’s your ‘OneWord365’ for 2014?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!



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James Prescott

Hi, I’m James. I live near London. I’m a fan of good food, comic-book movies, & books. I love to write, and I coach other writers & creative people. Thank you for being part of my community. read more...

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