The Many Faces of Bravery
"Bravery," journalist Franklin P. Jones once said, "is being the only one who knows you're afraid."
When I think of courage, however, I tend to think of the "hero" kind:
- Christopher Columbus braving the unknown to sail into the wide, wide world to see what was out there (you can barely convince me to leave the country, much less hop into some giant wooden sailboat, get scurvy, and possibly careen right off the edge of the planet).
- Firemen bursting through a flaming door to save someone.
- Members of the military, risking their lives in battle.
You get my drift.
Sure, the majority of us don’t experience these more blatant acts of courage on a day-to-day basis. But I still tell myself to be brave on a smaller scale, and on a pretty regular basis.
Almost daily, actually. For instance:
- Prior to picking up the phone to give bad news.
- At that moment of hesitation before entering the exam room to face an angry or unfriendly client.
- Before calling clients for the umpteenth time to have the same conversation about their sick pet, knowing full well that I absolutely can not tell them the one thing that they want to hear: "Everything will be okay."
- Even just telling a client, "I don’t know."
It’s always the same feeling, the deep same breath, the same voice in my head ("Be brave, Viv"), and then the leap into the unknown.
I think everyone has their own set of courageous moments on any given day. A few examples:
- People in customer service ("What do you mean I can’t return this broken, 7-year-old item without a receipt? Let me see your manager.")
- People in retail ("I know you said this purse is only available in yellow, but I want it in green, and I should get a discount on it since it’s not in stock.")
- Teachers (dealing with parents: "Your homework is interfering with Timmy’s soccer, baseball, and football schedule.").
- Hairdressers (How scary is that? Messing with someone’s hair and dealing with them when they are mad because they don’t look like Jennifer Aniston?)
- Telemarketers (I can’t even imagine picking that phone up over and over, just to be yelled at, insulted, or hung up on.)
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the unsung hero in all of us. Our collective mini-bravery, if you will.
Even if it’s not on a Columbus scale …
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll