How small acts of courage can change your life

I’m currently reading “Down The Great Unknown”, an account of John Wesley Powell’s journey down the Grand and Colorado rivers, from Wyoming through the Grand Canyon.

No one had ever done this journey before, neither white men, nor Native Americans.

Which meant that Powell and the men who accompanied him were flying blind.

Or rowing blind as the case may be.

They had no idea how long the journey would take, how challenging the river would be, whether or not they’d find food along the way.


On top of that, none of the 10 men who undertook the voyage had experience with river boating.

To say that the journey took a lot of courage would be an understatement.

In fact, journeys like Powell’s are what we often think of when we think of the word courage.

Big, bold, daring acts.

Maybe not as bold as Powell’s but things like quitting a job, moving to a new city, starting or ending a relationship.

But courage doesn’t just involve big, bold, daring actions.

Small acts of courage also matter and can also change your life.

Let me give you an example.

My wife and I live in Bogota, Colombia.

About a year ago, we moved to a new apartment.

Around the same time, a local volleyball group was looking for a new leader to organize their games.

If no one stepped up, the group would be shut down.

I had noticed a public, sand volleyball court in our new neighborhood and since volleyball has always been one of my favorite sports, I decided to step up and take over leadership of the group.

And yet…when it came to organizing the first game, I hesitated.

I hesitated for two reasons.

One is that I knew nothing about how to use the sand volleyball court.

Did I have to make a reservation or was it first come, first serve? And was use of the court free or did we have to pay?

To find out the answer to these questions, all I had to do was ask the park groundskeeper.

This was a 2-3 minute conversation tops.

And yet, I hesitated to initiate the conversation.

Although my Spanish is quite good, I can be quite shy when it comes to initiating conversations in Spanish.

After putting off this simple conversation for a couple of weeks, I finally gathered up my courage and asked the questions that I needed to ask (no reservations, free to use the court).

So now all I had to do was pick a day and time and send out the event invitation.

And yet I hesitated again.

Although the volleyball group had about 90 members, the previous leader had done almost nothing with the group.

Which left me with many unanswered questions:

  • Were people still interested in playing volleyball?
  • Was the day and time I had chosen good for group members?
  • Was the location of the court convenient for people (VERY important in a city of 8 million people with horrible traffic)?
  • What would we do if someone else was using the court that day and time (remember, no reservations).

After waiting for a few days, I finally sent out the invitation.

And held my breath, wondering if anyone would respond.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

The first event was a complete success: 12 people showed up that day and had an amazing time.

My original plan was to organize volleyball games every two weeks but the games proved so popular that I soon switched to weekly events.

Now, I’d be lying if I said that everything went smoothly from that point on.

A few weeks later, the sand volleyball court was shut down for maintenance and we had to switch to a nearby concrete court (which we often had to share with other groups).

And not everyone likes playing volleyball every single week.

So there were a few weeks where I had to cancel the event because there weren’t enough RSVPs.

But I pushed on, persevered, and kept organizing events every week.

And near the end of last year, the group began to grow in ways that I never imagined.

In fact the group has grown so big that I now have two co-organizers to help me plan events.

And we now have to set limits on how many people can show up each week.

Beyond that, the group has expanded beyond volleyball to include potluck dinners, barbecues, picnics, and other social events.

Heck, we’ve even had a relationship form as part of the group.

And so we are now more than volleyball.

We are a community.

Several group members have told me that the volleyball group is one the most important parts, if not THE most important part of their life.

And I would honestly say the same.

There is nothing that I look forward to like the weekly volleyball game.

And spending time with people who have become not just my friends but my family as well.

All of this grew out of a couple of small acts of courage.

From a distance, they may appear to have nothing in common with Powell’s journey down the Green and Colorado rivers.

But took a look closer, and you may notice that they both involved journeys into unknown territories with uncertain consequences.

And that both journeys changed lives in ways that couldn’t be foreseen before the journey began.

Isn’t that what courage is all about?

So here’s my point.

Big, bold, daring act of courage certainly have a place in your life.

But so do small acts of courage, like the ones that allowed me to create an amazing community in Bogota, Colombia.

So what are those small acts of courage that you’ve been putting off, that you’ve been hesitating about completing?

How about committing to doing one or two of them this week?

And see what kind of journey they take you on…

And if you want my help (whether with big or small acts of courage), just click the button below to schedule a Free Discovery Session.


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