15 Everyday Acts of Courage
There are so many different types and ways to be courageous. My favourite story is one of a young lady who was battling severe anxiety and depression due to bullying at school. She left school at 14 and spent time in and out of hospital for three years. One evening it took a lot of courage to come to her mum’s book launch with a room filled with people. She seemed to change that evening which made her mum’s heart sing. On the way home she told her mum she wanted to find the courage to speak at schools around her journey to help others. A few months later her daughter’s dream came true and she spoke in front 300 students about her journey with three key messages around kindness, compassion and non-judgement. There was not a dry eye in the room. Her courage changed her life and that of others too. That young girl is my daughter.
Here are my everyday acts of courage and leadership to practice and celebrate:
1. Saying sorry.
It takes courage to admit when you are wrong. It's a bold act to admit when you make a mistake. Saying sorry takes you out of your comfort zone and enhances your relationships. That's big. Do it!
2. Be yourself and own it.
Don't imitate anyone. Take off your mask. Allow yourself to become vulnerable. Share your flaws with others. See perfection in your imperfections. Who you are is a gift to the world. Allow yourself to shine.
3. Take responsibility and accountability.
You are where you are in life because of the choices you make. If you don't like what you see, change it. Reflection and choices are the keys and I often ask myself – I am living and leading a life I truly want? Responsibility brings freedom.
4. Keep your commitments and make goals.
Write down everything you say you are going to do and want to achieve. Write down the promises you make to others and what you want to achieve in your life. When you keep your promises, you build self-respect. Others respect you as well.
5. Have a voice and say no.
Speak up. Make a difference. Share your feelings when you witness an injustice. Practice sharing your opinion. Don't allow someone to take advantage of you. Learn to say, "no." Refuse to hold back when your gut says to move forward.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
6. Let go and forgive.
Stop wallowing over what could have been. Forgive yourself. Forgive everyone. What happened is over unless you keep it alive by reliving it in your mind. When we know better, we do better. It takes courage to move on.
7. Grow and learn.
Learn something new. Step into the unknown. Change the way you do things. It doesn't matter if you get it the first time. Try again. Give yourself permission to learn. Seize the opportunity. Growth brings new opportunities.
8. Listen and be present.
Listen to people who disagree with you. Listen to family members who think you are wrong. Listen to the elderly person in the coffee shop. Listen when you only want to speak and give advice. Listen and thank the other person for sharing.
9. Help others.
Help someone who doesn't help you. Help others when you don't have the time. Help someone who can't pay you back. Help someone when you are the one needing help. Learn to be of service. That's why we're here.
10. Courage is Love.
Be kind to each other. Be truthful. Accept differences. Spend time together. Act like a loving person. You can love difficult people as well. Forgive them and wish them the best. Let them go with love.
11. Practice gratitude.
Count your blessings. Tell the people in your life "thank you." Be grateful for the people you love and for the people who love you. Focus on what you are grateful for.
12. Choose happiness.
Make a decision that you will think happy thoughts, speak kind words, and spend time doing things that bring you joy. Have a good attitude. See the glass half full. Look at the bright side. Expect the best. Choose to focus on what's good.
13. Learn from your mistakes.
Reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done better. Look for your lesson. Choose to grow forward. Be compassionate. Make a new plan. Refuse to give up.
14. Embrace the small things.
Take time to love the small stuff. The taste of a glass of cold water, the different shades of red, a child's laugh or an elderly person's worn hands. Enjoy the sunrise and walk in the park. Enjoy…
15. Love Yourself. Accept your imperfections. Be your own best friend. Show yourself compassion, understanding and respect. This is the most courageous act of all.
What are your acts of courage? I would love to know…
Sonia McDonald is the CEO of LeadershipHQ, McDonald Inc and Outstanding Leadership Awards. She believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realize what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author of Just Rock It! and Leadership Attitude and soon to be released Furst Comes Courage. She writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
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Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”.Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humor will enhance any event she appears.
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