What is courage? Oxford dictionary defines it as “the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”. This is the kind of courage that we’ve heard about when we were kids: from fairytales and Disney films. However, being courageous can mean also a lot of other things.
Courage means chasing your dreams even though at times they seem faraway. It’s believing in yourself because if you don’t, how could the others do? It can be very courageous to say “no” or to admit that sometimes “I don’t know”, “I was wrong” or “this time I didn’t make it but it’s okay”. Being courageous doesn’t equal to not being afraid, it means being willing to progress anyway. On the other hand, courage isn’t running to new challenges without a second thought. It’s about considering the situation and taking calculated risks. This reminds me of my childhood favorite, the Lion King, where Mufasa says to his son: “Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”
Sometimes we might be afraid of choosing one path or possibility, because it automatically excludes another one. But what is to be remembered is that also not making a decision is a choice. At times fast decisions are required from us so courage is deciding with the information and knowledge you have available at that certain moment.
I remember at the elementary school when we started to learn ice-skating, one of the first things they taught us was how to fall safely without hurting oneself. That was great! After we had the courage to give it a try as we weren’t so afraid of falling. And believe me, with a bunch of kids on the ice with their wobbly feet in their tiny ice skates, there was a lot of falling. That’s how kids learn – they try, they fail and they try again even harder. We adults should remember to take children as example when it’s our time to face challenges and learn new things.
Today, courage is often not so much physical (unless you’re a firefighter or extreme sports is your thing or something else of that sort). It’s more about such matters as standing uncertainty – coping with uncertainty does take a lot of courage! At Proakatemia, learning to manage your own timetable and to accept uncertainty are some of the major things. Also, we are especially encouraged to develop and learn the things that we’re interested in but don’t know how to do yet. We speak a lot about daring to go to the uncomfort zone – that’s were amazing things happen! But people are very different, what requires a lot of courage from one might be very daily to somebody else. At Proakatemia we don’t belittle each other’s efforts but we support each other to find the best versions of ourselves: to give the possibility to our hidden skills to flourish. And we celebrate our successes together and go through the failures to find out what we could learn from them.
When my courage is starting to break by the fear of failure, I often ask myself: what is the worst thing that could happen? Most often the consequences wouldn’t be unmanageable after all, so it makes failing less scary (a bit the same way as knowing how to fall when ice-skating) and it’s easier to get started. And thanks to Proakatemia, there’s also the support of the team. We work as teampreneurs so we find our business together with other students, my team Motive has 12 teampreneurs.
To work well as a team and to be able to realize projects, we need to have the courage to show our ideas, thoughts, strengths and weaknesses to our team. Clearly, it’s not possible for 12 people to agree on everything and that’s not the point either. We need to dare to discuss and to learn to motivate our views and to have the strength to disagree if needed. What helps is knowing your own values and acting according to them. On the other hand, flexibility and compromises are also needed and those are often found through good dialogue and discussion.
To finish, courage cannot work alone. To open up to your team, we need trust. Trust is one of the values of Proakatemia and the beginning of our value path. The following values on the path are: courage, doing, learning and success. I’m happy to share our journey on this path with my team.
It’s a cliché but at the end, we don’t regret the mistakes that we did but the chances we didn’t take. So let’s support each other and find the courage within ourselves!
– Jaana Torkkola, a student and a member of the International Relations team of Proakatemia