Inspiration

Sage insights about courage from a baby bird

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Courage is the king of qualities. Actually, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, put only one other quality above it: honour.

He said:

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.”

In the fields where I play – media relations, content marketing and journalism – courage is one of the vital elements for success.

But we all have our fears.

As women, we can become especially fearful because of the double binds we face in society. For example, if you are a career woman, you are ‘neglecting the kids’ (or neglecting having any!). If you stay at home, you’re ‘wasting your talents’. If you want to do both, you’re ‘trying to be superwoman’, so don’t expect sympathy (or help) if you get overwhelmed. Sigh!

How, then, can we get up and face the world and its critics, as well as master our own uncertainties?

Birds abound in the trees around my neighbourhood.  I was pondering the quality of courage on my morning walk recently when I realised the birds had a lesson to teach me.

How is it, I thought, that a baby bird manages the leap from the nest? It is not just one quality, but several that must be mastered to have the courage to fly.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Courage starts with observation

No baby bird is ever going to leave the nest unless she watches her mother fly away. When we see others doing what we want to do, then we experience the first spark of courage.

2. To be courageous, identify with the courageous

Imagine how alluring the prospect of joining a flock of birds souring into the blue sky must be to a little bird born and confined to a tiny twig nest, crammed with siblings. We cannot light the fire of courage without first wanting to be part of the courageous tribe.

3. Courage is a muscle; it gets stronger with exercise

To start, have a go. The bird flaps its wings to build its strength. The high wire artist walks on a low wire first. Small acts of courage, repeated often, build to greater things.

4. Believe you are a bird if you want to fly

There are no guarantees of success before you try. Teetering on the edge of the nest, our baby bird must in the end, believe that the jump will lead to the sky and not to the ground.

5. Without a destination, we do not have the courage for the journey

As the former American President, John F Kennedy, put it: “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

Tweet, tweet.

About Kath Walters

Trainer. Mentor. Speaker. Kath Walters is a former Fairfax business journalist turned expert in media relations and content marketing. Kath trains and mentors businesses that want to use media and content to build their profile and profits -- and change the world for the better -- sharing everything she has learned over 16 years of writing and editing for top quality print and digital media mastheads. Kath has written an estimated 1.3 million compelling, informative and carefully researched words. The mastheads that have published them include: LeadingCompany, BRW, Australian Financial Review, SmartCompany, Business Spectator, Crikey, Women’s Agenda, Property Observer.

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