06 Apr Bravery: What Should Women Know About It?
“Bravery is being the ONLY ONE who knows you’re afraid.” – Col. David H. Hackworth
In a recent Ted Talk “To Raise Brave Girls Encourage Adventure” Caroline Paul speaks about the cautious behaviors we, parents of daughters, instill in our children at an early age. In this talk Caroline is encouraging parents to shift their parenting style to encourage more adventurous play and ‘risky play’ into our daughters lives.
As I watched this video, I began to think about how I was raised. I am blessed with having three sisters, 1 older and 2 younger. We each have our unique talents and strengths, and I’d say the three strengths we all possess, would be resilience, risk readiness, and willingness to continually challenge status quo.
We did not have a lot of money growing up, but we had tons of adventures. Mom sent us outside as soon as the sun came up and let us make our own fun. We were always dirty, healthy, and never bored! We were never allowed to complain, well at least not for long anyways. Yes as soon as we said ‘I’m bored’ mom found us something to keep us busy, and the chores were never fun ones!
We played in the waterfall behind our house. Jumped off of rock ledges into small pools of water. (Yikes! We could have killed ourselves!) Went sledding down mountains. Ran wild in the woods. Got poison ivy every year in places, well you get it. We rode our bikes to our friends house 5 miles away and called mom on the land line when we got there. We played outside until it got dark and then we caught fireflies until we had to go take a bath and get ready for the next day! We had freedom, trust, autonomy, and FUN!
Of course we got in trouble a ton as well, and it was usually because we didn’t tell mom where we were going to be and we worried her. Our lives as kids were somewhat without boundaries, but not without operating guidelines. We had to earn the trust to do activities and we had to prove to mom we would live up to the challenge and the trust. She also allowed us to negotiate the terms and conditions. If we made a good case and had responsible thinking and consequences we could “win” our negotiation.
Did we know all this learning and developing was going on as kids – NO! Did we eventually see where there was wiggle room in our negotiations and push the envelope sometimes – Absolutely. However it forced us to be better risk takers, planners, and negotiators. The important points here are we lived life outside of the house, choreographed daily routines, and the internet. Who am I kidding, I’m a dinosaur, the internet didn’t even exist when I was growing up!
Now, Mom might have been personally motivated by getting us out of the house so she could clean it and have some peace and quiet from four energetic kids, but in the end she gave us practice being brave. She gave us space to find our individual strengths, our negotiation and collaboration skills. We had ‘THE HOUSE’ to come play at! Rain or shine, at night or during the day, our friends and cousins loved coming to our house. It wasn’t because we ‘had stuff’ it was because we ‘made stuff’. We built forts out of blankets and chairs, we created spook houses with olive eyeballs and caterpillar eyebrows and spaghetti brains. We made our own fun, built life long relationships, and experienced adventures! How did my mom become this brilliant!
I have three daughters and I hope they see the values I’ve been sharing with them while raising them. I also hope all the female students, colleagues and friends see why I am so driven. I have a wonderful husband who balances me when I’m working too hard or he feels a choice I’ve made, or about to make, may jeopardize other choices. He’s become more comfortable raising concerns early so we can talk before any imbalance occurs. However, I feel this too has been a life lesson because life is about bravery. Bravery requires compromise, collaboration and compassion.
Back to the Ted Talk – Caroline speaks about ‘risky play’ which studies show teach us hazard assessment, delayed gratification, resilience and confidence. I always knew my mom was smart, but did she really know the life lessons she was building? She wasn’t only doing it with her daughters we have been spreading the word our entire lives. By pushing us outside to find ‘new things to do’ she helped us understand ‘routine things’ are necessary, but don’t give us energy, health, happiness, resilience, and confidence. Caroline speaks about some key outcomes when our daughters have bravery in their portfolio of talents.
Lesson 1 – When kids get outside they learn valuable life lessons: hazard assessments, delayed gratification, resilience, and confidence
Lesson 2 – We have to stop cautioning our girls ‘willy-nilly’: notice the next time you say ‘watch out your going to get hurt’ or ‘don’t do that it’s dangerous’. What your daughter hears and internalizes – “you shouldn’t push yourself”, “you shouldn’t take risks” “you aren’t good enough” and “you should be afraid’.
Lesson 3 – We women have to practice bravery too. Bravery can be learned, but it requires practice!
Lesson 4 – Guide others to access their bravery. Work through the fear with them, maybe it really is exhilaration and not fear. Encourage and listen.
As women, we are blessed to have tools, techniques, and talents which have made us brave! We have survived new jobs, new relationships, new bosses, new friendships, and lived through mistakes, some big and some small. Despite it all we have been resilient, honest to ourselves and others (at some level).
I realize the world isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, however it really comes down to what you want to get out of each day. Living in fear is a dark and lonely place. I can speak from experience. However, living is about the 3 C’s: Chances, Choices, Changes. I must take a Chance. I must make a Choice. I must Change what I’m doing if I want a different outcome.
Take a Chance – Do something you have been afraid to do or something on your bucket list.
Make the Choice – Practice being brave.
Change the outcome – Open different doors to experience NEW ADVENTURES!
What do you have to lose! ENJOY!