If you can’t be brave, be patient
As we navigate yet another week of upheaval in our new normal, the question I have been asking myself is what am I learning that is new about managing fear?
This has been on my mind because, thanks to the pandemic, people everywhere appear to be living in a world in which many things in our life are beyond our control (the very thing that humans fear most) and we have no idea how long this phase of our evolution is going to last.
So, rather than simply try to endure this in the hope that the storm will pass, I am beginning to wonder whether it would be wiser to use this opportunity to figure out how to thrive on the personal level irrespective of external circumstances that we cannot control.
And, as I struggle to come to terms with this for myself, I am realising that maybe a better question is – how are the rapid changes in our circumstances brought on by the pandemic altering our understanding of what it means to be brave in the face of the perpetual unknown?
At first, this struck me as rather an odd question.
After all, until recently, the word “brave” has largely been reserved for warriors and first responders – the people traditionally viewed to be courageous.
But then I came across this quote in an essay on www.scholaradvisor.com: “Bravery is taking a risk to give something of yourself in order to make life easier for another.”
And I realised that from this perspective, anyone who takes a risk for the ultimate betterment of society can be viewed as brave in that, even when they are testing boundaries on an issue that we do not support or employing a tactic that we do not agree with, they are helping us all to refine and better understand both our current reality and the best way forward.
Even when they stumble, the brave ultimately give of themselves “to make life easier for another”, meaning that in order for humanity find a way beyond this pandemic just about all of us will be called on to be brave in some regard or other because, like it or not, we are all in this together.
So, what does this “new bravery” look like for the common man in the context in the new normal?
To start with, bravery is admitting to yourself what you are secretly most fearful of and then finding the strength to continue to put one foot in front of the next every day even when you have no idea where this journey is heading.
Even when you know you are in a completely new place, and nothing appears to work the way that it used to.
Even when all the seedlings you plant just seem to wither or go dormant in the heat.
Even when every business idea that you come up with seems to fall apart just days before the big launch.
In short, bravery is not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the huge list of obstacles in your path or the imaginary list of things that might happen or might go wrong.
New bravery is appreciating that we live in a time of great change and taking joy in the knowledge that we all get to have a say in how the world will become.
And in the moments when this seems too difficult, take heart – new bravery is nurtured by patience.
So if you can’t be brave, be patient. Things may not ever be exactly the same as before, but they will get easier.
Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or firstname.lastname@example.org