Little acts of courage

Karen Hitchcock take the leap

Your fear is the ball & chain. Reach down, release. Repeat.

I’ve been hankering to write on a more personal note, but alas, this is a business blog. And so I find myself weaving things that feel highly personal into a narrative that addresses professional issues. People always say, “business isn’t personal.” I agree to some extent, but really, the line is pretty fuzzy, isn’t it?

My last post was about trust. The concept, the thought, and the emotions that underly this simple word. Trust transcends business and personal. Trust transcends culture and race. Like human dignity, it’s fundamental, don’t you think? We all look for trust in work and play.

Today I’m thinking about courage. I made the leap, took a jump, tested the waters and did something courageous last night in my personal life. I wrote a poem . It came to me in only minutes after writing three pages of random thoughts, arranged with scattered cadence and rage and grief. The subject matter is not important here; what is important is that I shared it. I put it in the universe for someone else to read and comment and laugh or cry. In fact, I shared it with three people. This is big time for me!

I’ve always loved to write, but since winning many creative writing awards in high school, I lost my mojo. I was tethered to college papers, serious work and serious play in college. I got out of practice. I stopped sharing. I kept it to myself in scattered bits in secret drawers.

But last night, I did it! In fact, I got so bold as to share with one of my best friends in the world, Valerie Laken, a Pulitzer-prize nominated author and professor of creative writing. I knew she would be supportive because she’s an amazing mentor to friends and students, but I’ve always been intimated to share with her because she is so good! Her writing is honest and brutal and sweet and fluid. To pass over my sixth-grade quality poem felt scary and real and raw.

But I did it. And all of a sudden, I felt brave and full and light. The fear that kept my pages blank was in my head and in my heart. No one on the other end is spending his or her days thinking, “Damn, I hope Karen doesn’t send me a poem today, that would be awful!”

So how does this translate to me in business, you in business, us in business? My advice is to be a little braver. Share a little more and hold back a whole lot less. The fear of introducing a new idea, standing up to a manager who’s bullying you [you know who you are] or looking stupid is your own creation. The world needs your ideas, your thoughts, your words and if the person with whom you share them makes you feel like the world doesn’t…well, it’s time to find a new person…NOT a new you.

Thanks for reading, K

If you’re up for a good read, check out Valerie’s book Dream House. Her short story collection, Separate Kingdoms will also inspire and evoke. She’ll be in Madison in early November for a reading. Ping me if you want to meet there or look for my post with the date/place/time.

To get started finding courage, you can read Anne Lammots’ instructions on life, Bird by Bird or Eric Maisel’s Coaching the Artist Within. Thank you Leila. Thank you Val.

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5 Responses to Little acts of courage

  1. Leave it to the ‘rents to find the typo. Thanks mom. I meant intimidated! Not intimated. At least the latter is still a word. 😉

  2. Ben Arthur says:

    Lovely article, Karen. (It’s Anne Lamott, though 🙂

  3. Good catch Ben! My next blog will be about laziness. I knew I needed to check her name and hyperlink it but I felt like being done, so got a little lazy!

  4. Elizabeth Hall Magill says:

    I’m proud of you, Karen–I remember you as a poet with a zeal for and love of language. Writing is always an act of courage–putting it in the world again, and again, and again. I love your image and the words that go with it. My own mantra is: Write. Release. Repeat. I hope you keep writing and releasing–the world needs your words and your bravery, my friend.

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