Recently I heard a panel of Israeli Defense Force soldiers discuss their roles in last summer’s war in Gaza and Operation Protective Edge.
All were men in their 20s and early 30s. Medical students, lawyers, husbands and fathers. Platoon commanders, fighter pilots and navy seals. One, the father of three, had lost the use of his legs. Another had tried, unsuccessfully, to rescue his brother from hundreds of feet of enemy tunnel.
It gave me some perspective on my fears.
What is the source of these soldiers’ bravery?
Bravery is not the absence of fear. It’s acknowledging fear and acting despite it.
After his paralyzing fall from a horse, Christopher Reeve wrote in Nothing is Impossible:
When a field commander gives his troops the order “Follow me!” he might be extremely anxious or downright terrified. But he has to project confidence and authority, or the troops will only reluctantly do their duty without rallying behind him. In some cases the old adage “Fake it until you make it” is actually helpful. You make a choice or set a goal and let people know about it. Then just getting started leads to the discovery of internal resources that help us go farther than we ever thought we could.
We are capable of much more than we imagine.
I choose to take action despite fear. I’m taking skiing lessons with my three-year-old. I’m flying to California to hang out and learn with a hotel full of highly able, rockstar coaches. I’m shouting it to the blogosphere.
I can’t predict outcomes but I’m in the game. Inside I feel fear, but I’m faking bravery — for myself and for the world.
© Liora Powers