After spending 36 hours straight in airplanes and airport terminals, thinking of nothing except the next comfortable seat for nodding off with my carry-on touching my leg, the next meal that won’t give me indigestion, the next washroom, the shortest security lineup, the least surly Customs Officer, I was on automatic pilot. No ‘Real Thinking Allowed Here’ became the best policy. Beyond knowing which pocket my passport was in, where I hid the boarding pass (and why I can’t just put it in the same place every time!), what currency was used and where the volume was on my headset, No Thinking was essential to survival.

Getting settled in the Toronto cold, in the warmth of a friend’s home, I turned the ON button and realized I was being assaulted by doubts. These doubts became louder during the long sleepless hours, where night here was daytime for my body.

After eating a series of breakfasts with the members of this three-generation household as they woke up in waves on Family Day, my friend and I started a conversation about our lives. The type of meandering conversation that can be interrupted by the child, the phone, the next meal, and can last for hours. You know, the kind of loosly-knit chatter that has most men shaking their head in puzzlement.

I will leave out the details and focus on what was useful to me and may strike a chord with you.

So the gist of it was the need for Courage to live our best life. By courage, I mean doing what you think is right whether others feel the same or not. Taking one more step forward on a new path, not having a clue where you will end up. Showing up as You, no frills attached. Knowing you can be right and you can be wrong,and moving forward anyway.

Courage is eaten away by Doubt. Doubt is the voice from the Past saying: Who do you think you are? Who are you fooling? What could possibly come of that? Remeber what happened when you took that fork in the road the last time? What if you fail, and worse, what if you fail, again!

Doubt comes in many form. It crawls into the words you hear others say. It permeates your own words. It adds a whine to the songs you play and puts hesitation in your step. Doubt slows you down until you have forgotten who you are and have sunk back into the Old and the Familiar.

Sometimes, for Courage to Slay Doubt, it takes Another or a few Others who refuse to let you shrink. These annoying Others demand that you rise up again, and have the audacity to replay your own words to you! They challenge and provoke you until your lights are on again and somebody is home.

What I love about my life, is that I have coached many folks who are completely awake and expect me to incarnate my own values and beliefs, n’est-ce pas. Over the decades, I have also collected a number of pushy coaches who will ask for more courage rather than the little I sometimes want to get away with. And then, I have a very lucid son and many younger folks who will accept nothing less than authenticity and courage from an elder, i.e. anyone over 40 (smile).

So, it is onward and forward.

What system are you building to shore up your courage when you need it? Would love to see your comments.