This is a quote by Kristen Wiig in the newly released film ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’.
In the film, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) dreams of achieving big challenges but his reality is the opposite – a ‘normal’ guy who struggles to win the girl of his dreams and finds it hard to recall anything of note about his life. However, when faced with a real life test, he is capable of achieving and exceeding anything even he could have dreamed of.
Courage is often portrayed like this. Normal people placed in extra-ordinary circumstances and coping beyond their expectations. Whether it is the dignity and calmness shown by 9/11 workers as they trouped out of their burning buildings, bystanders who plunge into a raging river to rescue a drowning person or passers-by who confront gun welding murders; these are situations that most individuals will never expect to see in their lifetime.
Most of us will never face these types of opportunities to see whether we’re capable of being just as courageous. However, we all face daily opportunities to be courageous – crossing the road, offering an opinion and trying new food all involve a degree of risk that most of us accept as a part of living our lives. In fact, without courage we would never learn to walk, to love, to start new jobs, to travel and to develop as human beings.
Courage does not have an off or on switch. All of us are courageous, we simply have different levels of risk that we are prepared to take.
Next time you’re confronted with a situation where the best action to take makes you feel uncomfortable, rather than seeing it as a one-off event, recognise it as a point on the line between those risks that you’re happy to take and those that you’re not.
And then step into the unknown.