I used to think of fear and bravery as being polar opposites.

In my mind, they were enemies who couldn’t co-exist and to have one meant that you couldn’t possibly have the other.

If you felt fear, you were a coward and if you were brave, you were by definition, fearless.

That perspective has changed a bit recently as I’ve realised that perhaps instead of being enemies, they may just be best friends.  Perhaps instead of being mutually exclusive, they are necessary partners.

What do I mean by that?

If you have fear without bravery, you are in a very dangerous position.  You will be hampered by your fears and held back from taking the risks necessary to be successful.

I see it often and have recognised it in myself in the past as well.

Fear of the future.

Fear of what others think.

Fear of failure.

The list goes on and without the courage to take action, fear wins and our lives remain small.

Conversely, bravery without fear can lead to recklessness.  Without stopping to consider the potential pitfalls of particular actions, we are prone to do silly things that may jeopardise relationships, finances and even our health.

I remember meeting a young man in the local emergency waiting room at our local hospital with my oldest son, Hayden.  Under the influence of a few too many drinks and the encouragement of his mates, he decided to allow himself to be towed down a hill by a motorcycle at 60 kph as he sat on a tractor tyre.  There was a small jump at the bottom of the hill and a small dam was there for him to land in.  Of course, he missed and had broken his arm in multiple places.  One of his friends filmed it on his phone and showed Hayden and I the footage.

The sound on the video went something like this, “Woooooooohooooooo!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!  &$%#@+!”

It wasn’t pretty viewing, but I did manage to get Hayden to promise that he wouldn’t do anything so reckless.

You couldn’t question this young man’s bravery, but a lack of inhibition and poor decision-making led to significant consequences and he was probably lucky to escape with just a broken arm.

When you have a healthy balance of fear and bravery, you can have the right mix of caution and sense of adventure.

There’s an old saying that, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the ability to take action in spite of it.”

It’s a great reminder that fear is a normal human emotion, just don’t be held back by it.

Bravery is much rarer, but remember that you don’t need to become fearless to be brave, you just need the voice of your courage to be slightly louder and more compelling than the voice of your fears.

Fear and bravery, are they enemies or best friends in your life?

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