Sometimes in the editing work I do, I have the chance to edit something that is rather interesting. Last week, I edited a document that defined “entrepreneur” as “someone with courage.” There was more to this definition, of course. But absent was our standard understanding of the word: one who starts her own business. I appreciated this novel approach to this concept. Someone with courage.
With its Latin root of “heart,” courage marries the physical/mental with the emotional/psychological. A courageous act is indeed brave; not all bravery is courageous. To put it another way, courage is an inspired action in the fact of daunting odds.
I’ve been thinking about how to use my heart to do things–challenging, difficult things–so that I am acting with courage and not letting doubt swallow me whole. And I keep coming back to boxing as a tool that just might help me be more courageous. For the past couple of months, I’ve been training with a boxing coach and I love it. After an hour of boxing, I feel so alive, so unbridled, so truly capable.
One day my trainer had me in plank. I forget how long he wanted me to hold it. A minute maybe? Possibly two? As I got myself in position, he crouched down next to me. “You know when you hold your breath under water,” he mused as my body braced for the longest minute of its life, “and there’s that voice in your head that tells you can’t hold it any longer? Well, that is just your anxiety talking. You can actually hold your breath a lot longer than you think.”
Why is he talking about being underwater? My shoulders, wrists, and tortured obliques did not see the connection.
His voice dropped. “You’re going to hear that voice now. Remember, it’s just anxiety. You can actually hold this much longer than your brain is telling you can.”
I want to add this to the definition of courage: a steadfast, heartfelt war against the pervasive anxiety that scampers through our minds. To wage this war, I think, is courageous.