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Courage Advice Column from Courage Expert?Sandra Ford Walston
Sandra Ford Walston

Dear Sandra:
I just landed a great job! For the first time, I negotiated my salary to my satisfaction. I didn###t give my talents away for fear of not being hired. At 48 years-old, I feel proud that I gave myself permission to be me. Why did it take me so long to become aware of my self-esteem? Why did I feel the need to silence my voice?

Dear Permission to be Me:
You###re not the only woman slow to awaken her self-esteem. I always ask clients: Have you given yourself permission to be as large, as powerful and as passionate as you really are? I###m not talking about your girth I###m talking about your mirth. I###m talking about your passion and depth of feeling. Or are you stuck in conditioned responses, such as uncertainty scares me or I###m too old to learn something new? Are these the labels you###ve fastened on your life###s journey? If so, this is the opposite of courage.

Many of my readers, corporate/association clients, or coaching clients tell me that I have given them permission to be themselves. I have helped them to see that their courageous self, the one who feels deeply and hides it for fear of being judged or compared, is really okay. From that real self perspective, new insights about their inner passion and hidden wishes comes forth. This newfound courage and sense of freedom merges body, mind and spirit.

In many cases, the power of the person is different from the power of the visual persona we show the world. I don###t know where or when we were told that being who we are is in some way inappropriate or inadequate, but people don###t want an artifice. They want truth and honesty. Have you noticed in the media when someone is blatantly honest people are shocked whereas corruption, cheating or lying is accepted as an everyday happenstance?

Here are a few questions for you: Is there any difference between the ways you joke around and play in your kitchen with close friends than the way you are with your colleagues? Do you lose your sense of spontaneity and voice when you step up to reveal an opinion in a staff meeting? I certainly have, and if you do, I would request you begin the process of bringing your true self and your courage (meaning heart and spirit) closer together.

Give yourself permission to be yourself. Give yourself permission to say what you have been unwilling to say. Ask yourself:

  • What courageous conversation am I not having?
  • What am I doing what I absolutely dislike?

Maybe it###s time to be honest. No one ever went to their grave joyfully embracing all their accumulative regrets! Be brave! Give yourself permission to take the next step.

Moral of the story: He who hesitates before each step spends his life on one leg. -Ancient Chinese Proverb

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert.ä She is a leadership consultant, Courage Coachä, corporate trainer and international author. Ms. Walston conducts skill-based training programs on a variety of in-demand employment and personal growth topics for public and private businesses, such as IBM, Caterpillar, Inc., General Electric, Wide Open West, and Teletech. She is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicatorâ and is Enneagram certified. She wrote COURAGE: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman (Random House), and her second book due next year, COURAGE GOES TO WORK: Women Step Up Their Careers (career development), provides male and female insights on the merit of courage at work.