Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it longs to be known.
Without bravery, your life will remain small - far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be."
- Elizabeth Gilbert
"You're one of the bravest people I know." That was said to me over three decades ago and I still have a hard time letting it land. I've never seen myself as a brave person; but, if I were to look at the events of my life, well... yes, I can see how it might look that way.
Still, it's not the truth of me. What I am, however, is a word I made up about 5 years ago or so... It's 'joy-fuel.'
Not joyful - which is often a state of being that "happens to us" as a reaction to something; but rather, joyfuel, which is a state of being we create, starting from within us, as a creation of something.
For me, I discovered that it's been my path to brave. It's how I may show up as brave, even if I'm shaking in my boots! It's a way to tap into and create the kind of bravery that this opening quote calls us to create.
Joyfuel is a way of making fear irrelevant... What do I mean by that? Well, let me share an analogy with you; a short story from my youth.
It was a searingly hot August day in Malta. My Mom, brother and I had ventured out on a little excursion to the famous 'blue grotto', which is a naturally-hewn 'complex' of seven caves along Malta's southern coast.
The tours out to the caves were run, at that time, by local fishermen and we found ourselves standing in line on a narrow, creaky, wooden dock. It was just wide enough to stand single file (or, at best, two-by-two) as we waited to 'board' one of the two small, hand-rowed fishing boats. Back and forth between dock and grotto, each boat picked up just 4 or 5 people at a time, as the other one toured inside the cavern that was the feature of the trip.
As you can imagine... the line was not moving fast! The heat pressed into us with relentless, blistering persistence. We could feel its crushing weight bearing down.
My Mom must have been a boy scout in another life because she was always "prepared". She carried an oversized purse. It was her very own Mary Poppins bag.
On this day, it carried an assortment of survive-the-heat goodies: hats, sunglasses, some water, a few little snacks, plus an assortment of Bandaids and other paraphernalia "just in case." Even a couple of little battery-powered, hand-held fans!
She was a sharer, my Mom. So, of course, she had lots of 'extra' and was soon doling out refreshments up and down the line to the grateful tourists as we waited in the blistering heat.
Under normal circumstances, we wouldn't have stayed that long in the heat, no matter how promising the grotto's reputation. But there was no place to go! This was "it" -- the wooden dock, a tiny little patch of beach, the two little rowboats and the cavern. The cavern was, by the way, the ONLY shade anywhere in sight.
I loved the way my Mom had come prepared to 'brave the heat.' I admired the way she so generously shared. But I was downright dumb-struck and marvelled when, with a bit of a coy grin, she pulled out the most unexpected-of-unexpected-delights from her bag. Compact umbrellas! Three of them.
We and the strangers around us clustered together under our make-shift shade with our snacks. It is for me a moment frozen in time. So simple; and, so very joyfuel.
So what does that have to do with being brave? My Mom was never afraid of looking foolish. She would do her best to communicate in any language and would put herself out in service to others in any way necessary. She wasn't afraid to drag around an oversized purse on a blistering hot day. She didn't hesitate for a second to offer respite, in the form of food and shade, to strangers that day. And the point is this... she was never afraid to reach out to in service or contribution to others; EVER.
She seemed fearless. But, for those who got to know her well, she surely was not that. What she was, though, was thoughtful and creative. She tried to make every experience an adventure and bring joy to every encounter. She didn't wait; she made it happen.
That's what joyfuel looks like. It's both attitude and action that we bring to each moment, looking to fuel it, as best we can, with joy. And, then, get so busy doing it that there's no room for second-guessing ourselves, getting caught up in self-doubt, or worrying about what will happen next.
In these times of pandemic fear, it's a beautiful demeanour to bring to the forefront. To take each moment as it comes. To fuel and infuse that moment with a choice for joy and to do what we can to create it. Choice by choice; moment by moment; action by action. It's an undeniable way to BE BRAVE! And, as a result, and as the opening quote says, "to know the world as richly as it longs to be known."
I seek to create value in every encounter - energizing people, possibilities and potential.
'Your Meaningful Vision, Fulfilled.'
Janice Kobelsky Leadership development and wellbeing #because each of us can be the leader we wish we had.
I've also put together a Resource page with a collection of posts, videos, and other resources I've curated or created that can create some needed joyfuel in these pandemic days. It's here: https://janicekobelsky.mykajabi.com/anew-possibility
Need more brave? Please share this. We can all use a little more joyfuelled brave in our lives.