Courage is having a moment in pop culture. Forbes Magazine, Vanity Fair, Newsweek and Oprah Magazine are all talking about courage. But not in the way you might expect. Right now, the talk about courage centers around being vulnerable.
The discussion comes by the way of an incredibly popular talk on Netflix by the scientific researcher Brene Brown. In "The Call to Courage," the University of Houston professor shares how confronting (and accepting) uncertainty in life unites people, families and communities. Over the one-hour and 16-minute special, Brown offers personal examples supported by research about how anxiety about the unknown can be divisive, but that human relationships thrive when we build an unknown future together by sharing our fears, rather than pretending to have all the answers.
I am so excited to hear this conversation taking place across the nation. It confirms what we already see every day through our work in the community: courage is the acceptance of and move toward change without fully knowing the final result of that change. This is a community trait that should be celebrated.
Parents trust schools and youth programs that provide their children with opportunities whose effects may not be realized for years to come; Nonprofit organizations create partnerships based on their unique strengths to bring about positive changes that are envisioned and well-planned, but still unknown; and donors provide support to professionals who have the knowledge, but perhaps not yet all the tools and resources they need make strides. All of these situations require an openness to collaborate and confidence in others to build the community we want to live in. In our work, we get to new levels of understanding through curiosity and a desire to be constantly making energetic progress toward improving life for all.
Our nation's founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence in that stifling, hot hall in Philadelphia 243 years ago understood this complicated balance of making change through courageously trusting others. I doubt they imagined a "perfect" future when they listed their grievances against King George, but certainly a life that was better than their circumstances at that time.
So, this Fourth of July, in addition to enjoying fireworks and cookouts, I encourage you to imagine how to improve your life and the lives of those around you - and then share those ideas. How else do we build "a more perfect union" than by working hand-in-hand with our friends and neighbors?It won't be perfect, but it will be purposeful. Trust me.