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Courage and creativity

by Douglas Eby

"You learn courage by couraging."

In a review of the book The Courage to Create by Rollo May, psychologist Stephen Diamond comments, "Creativity always requires taking a chance on one's self... and moving ahead despite self-doubts, discouragement and anxiety. 

"Courage, as May makes clear, is not the absence of insecurity, fear, anxiety or despair, but resides in the decision to move through these feelings as constructively or creatively as possible."

Writer Anais Nin declared, "It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before, to test your limits, to break through barriers."

Sandra Ford Walston is a courage coach, keynote speaker and corporate trainer, and author of a book on courage, written especially for women.

In an article about her, Jill Lawrence wrote: "Walston says the two things in her life that required ultimate courage were the giving up of her son for adoption and embarking on a writing career. 

"She had a lot of fear around being a writer. She preferred to express herself through her public speaking. Yet, her courage enabled her to face that fear and get on with a writing career."

Lawrence writes that Walston refers in the book to the 1939 classic film "The Wizard of Oz," with the lion who was "so desperately searching for courage... Of course, the Lion in question actually had a tremendous reservoir of courage but was unable to see that truth about himself. 'That's often the case, especially for women,' [Walston] explains."

Part of the reason it may be difficult for some women to acknowledge or make use of their courage is that patriarchal societies associate strength and courage with physical power, and with men but not women.

Another article posted on Walston's website says, "But in earlier times, courage meant mental or moral strength to venture, to persevere, and to withstand danger, fear, or difficulty," Walston explains. 

"If this broader definition of courage prevailed, women would be viewed much differently today... If every woman identified the acts she performs every day as courageous, she would be able to use that same courage to transform her life and accomplish her heart's desire."

Walston and other writers point out it is a strength that can be developed.

Philosopher Mary Daly has commented, "I think you guard against decay, in general, and stagnation, by moving, by continuing to move. And with courage. And courage is like -- it's a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It's like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging."

Writer and script consultant Linda Seger said in an interview of ours, "You have to learn how to be in scary areas, make those comfortable, then go to the next scary area and make it comfortable. If we want to be in a little cocoon, well, that's where we're going to be. 

"But the nature of moving out of your little cocoon into another area is that it is scary, and it's not just a matter of saying you have to have courage, because you learn courage."

Jill Lawrence said Walston "demonstrated courage in her personal life as well" when she was dumped by her fianc*. "I had no friends, no family and only knew the area in a mile-and-a-half radius around where I was living [said Walston]. I didn't know what I was going to do. One thing I did know how to do was to make lemonade out of water." 

"It was from this experience," writes Lawrence, "that a defining moment arose and a crystallization of an insight surfaced to her: she was to write a book about women and courage. 'I had to reinvent myself one more time and draw upon my ever-growing reservoir of courage! During that sad and lonely period, a voice told me that if I could weather the melancholy and loneliness, a revelation would come to me,' Walston exults." 

Actress Gillian Anderson wrote in the foreword to the book Girl Boss by Stacy Kravetz, "I believe from the bottom of my heart that there is nothing we as human beings, and especially we as women cannot tackle. 

"It is not a matter of being fearless. The fear is sometimes constant but it's about moving forward regardless of the fear. Courage means feeling the fear and doing it anyway."

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Sandra Ford Walston  website

**books :

Rollo May. The Courage to Create

Linda Seger Making a Good Writer Great

Sandra Ford Walston. Courage: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman

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more quotes, books etc on page :  courage

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