Claudia Chan

Professional Certified Life Coach
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What is really courage?

January 4, 2024

Today, I came upon an interview by Elaine Lin Hering. She is the author of the book called "Unlearning Silence: How to Speak Your Mind, Unleash Talent, and Live More Fully".

In this recent interview, she said that "The advice “be more courageous” or “have more confidence” fails to consider the many of our choices are a result of careful calculation.

Calculation of the blowback we can stomach.
Calculation of the relational costs.
Calculation of the emotional labor required.
Calculation of whether I get to keep my job.

These calculations are so engrained in us from the times we've been burned that it makes silence make sense.

Want people to speak up?

Change the calculus, not the person."

So as a Courage Coach, I was wondering where does Courage really fit in.

And this is my take on this: for me, the “calculations” is the awareness piece. Understanding what are the costs, what could potentially happen, and how much a person can take on, so that we can shift. Because we can’t shift without becoming aware in the first place.

And of course! When we come upon really difficult situations, our brains will always remain silent! Because our brains’ primary function is to protect us, keep us from getting hurt.

And yet I believe that when I talk about courage, it’s not just in the end part where we “speak up”.

Because for me, courage is a necessary ingredient to help me face any and all discomfort.

To allow oneself to SIT with the feeling of helplessness takes courage.

To accept the fact that I am unable to do anything about my situation RIGHT NOW takes courage.

To endure the hardship, humiliation, suffering, for a long period of time takes courage.

AND it’s only after understanding why I’m holding myself back and accepting where I am right now, THEN I can make a decision.

These things are happening right now, AND I get to choose what’s best for me.

I can either choose to speak up, and risk getting laid off.

Or choose to remain silent for 6 months (or 1 year, or however long), so that I can search for another job, or I can go out there and create better relationships so I have better opportunities.

I get to decide how long I want to endure something for.

Both of these choices take courage.

It is not mutually exclusive, courage is needed along the entire way.

Because let’s be real, the water is extremely difficult to swim in.

For an Asian girl living in a white dominated, male dominated society.

I feel it in my bones (all the judgement, all the stares, all the put downs) when I go out there, put myself out there.

Courage allows me to acknowledge that my hands are tied right now, and it helps me to decide HOW I want to proceed for myself.

Taping into the courage to face the uncomfortable and making the difficult decisions, which gives the power back to ME.

Thank you, Elaine, for your sharing! (Really looking forward to reading this book! I pre-ordered it!)

Claudia Chan

Professional Certified Life Coach


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