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Redefining What It Means to Be Brave


A few weeks ago, we were driving home from a lovely family dinner, when we saw a guy driving just ahead who was swerving all over the highway. It was really scary. As we got closer, we could see that he was reading his phone.

Let me be clear, while the dictionary defines “brave” as “being willing to face or endure danger or pain” this man’s behavior was anything but.

I’ve long found our traditional definition of brave lacking.

When we think of “brave,” it’s usually in the context of something we want to be – something good. Yet I can think of a lot of people who are willing “face danger and pain” and their behavior isn’t always admirable.

Our standard definition of “brave” doesn’t assume responsibility or integrity or respect.

I can think of times in my life when I have boldly said what needed to be said! Oh yes! I was ready to face whatever danger and pain might come my way! But in doing so I didn’t always communicate in a way that was reflective of my best and highest self. In the aftermath of my self-righteousness, I’d feel that icky feeling deep down inside that reminded me, I could do better.

Related: Start Paying Attention to What Your Insides Are Telling You

We can do better. But we need to set ourselves up for success. 

Words are power. How we use them and think of them can alter the way we see and act. I knew, for myself, that in order to be the best me in the world, I needed to redefine what it means to be brave.

To me, real bravery is about “being your best, most authentic, and powerful self.” Because I believe this is the greatest challenge that lies in front of us.

To be our best assumes responsibility, integrity and respect. To be authentic requires us to pay attention to how others experience us while at the same time being true to our deepest self. To be powerful forces us to act and take ownership of our ability to make an impact. Maybe more than anything, this definition ignites a mindfulness that transforms the way we show up in the world and thus our results.

What I know to be true is that we are all far more brave than we know, but how we think about it will inform how we approach it. Consider redefining what it means to be brave and explore how that changes things for you.

It might just force you to put down your phone.


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