Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Courage Habit. This excerpt discusses the four part of the Courage Habit process: how to create community.
To truly live courageous lives, we need other like-minded people around us who are also trying to honor the values of courage. Why do we need this? First, creating courageous communities in our lives gives us the support we need to face challenges.
Sometimes we just don’t see what’s right in front of us, and we need people who are doing similar work to help us to see the truth. Most of all, you need to know who is in your own personal “courageous community.” When it’s time to celebrate, it’s just so much more fun to do it with people who have been with you through all of the ups and downs, rough days, and victories. Talking to someone about your experience who truly “gets it” is far more satisfying. Quite simply, reaching out and creating community is part of living a better life.
The research into habit formation also confirms the need for social support. Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit (2014) wrote, “For most people who overhaul their lives, there are no seminal moments or life-altering disasters. There are simply communities—sometimes of just one other person—who make change believable.” He goes on to write about a 1994 Harvard study where participants found that being involved in a social group made change easier. “One woman said her entire life shifted when she signed up for a psychology class and met a wonderful group. ‘It opened up a Pandora’s box,’ the woman told researchers. ‘I could not tolerate the status quo any longer. I had changed my core.’”
To practice the Courage Habit step of reaching out, first you’ve got to know who you can reach out to. Where are the courage-based relationships in your life that will make up your courageous community? Who will be standing with you? Which relationships are courage-based? Who is also playing the game of life from a place of taking risks in the name of their dreams, letting their most courageous selves emerge?
The examples that are below are examples of what it looks like when someone is “reaching out” in their own life. When someone is reaching out, you’ll hear them expressing:
- Vulnerability, rather than an image. They’ll admit when things are hard, instead of pretending that things are perfect.
- Optimism, rather than complaints. While they’re human and might sometimes need to vent and complain, in general they’re hoping to find solutions to problems, rather than staying stuck in listing all the things that are wrong.
- Empathy, rather than advice. When you talk about something that’s upsetting, they offer understanding of how you feel, rather than listing suggestions for improvement.
- Compassion over critique. They aren’t gossiping, judging, or being catty about you or other people.
- Confrontation with Kindness, over “tough love.” They will challenge you for your benefit in ways that are gentle and that you can hear, rather than harshly telling you to just get over your problems.
Regardless of whether you think there are plenty of people to reach out to or no one fits the bill, the good news is that all the steps of the Courage Habit that you’ve been practicing thus far have paved the way for you to either strengthen your existing relationships or create new ones.
The work starts in a familiar place. Practice the first three parts of the Courage Habit by accessing the body, listening without attachment, and reframing limiting Stories, only this time add the additional component of applying the first three Courage Habit parts as you practice “reaching out” behaviors.