Courage in the Face of Fear

“The best thing to do sometimes is to open up the cage and face the five-hundred-pound gorilla.  He’s going to come after you anyway, so you might as well let him out.”    -  Charlie Renfroe

Courage to face difficult circumstances in life does not come without fear.  Even for those you see as very courageous.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage assumes fear.  When I was younger a group of friends and I went boating out on a local lake.  In one of the smaller chains of lakes there was a huge oak tree right on the side of the lake that some drunk soul had built a ladder 20 to 30 feet up and platform from which to jump.  My friends willingly climbed the ladder and jumped as if it was no big deal.  I was bold as I climbed the ladder, but once I reached the platform I suddenly became terrified.  But my friends were cheering me on by calling me names like “chicken.”  Faced with this situation I knew there was no turning back, so I swallowed my fear and jumped.  Breathless all the way to the water, I thought my life would end soon.  When I came up out of the water I couldn’t believe how refreshed I felt.  There was a significant relief that came from feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

In life, you will be faced with many situations that you’d rather not have to deal with.  Conflict with family, peers, bosses, subordinates, etc., is commonplace.  Your ability to open up the cage of the gorilla in the face of your fear will lead you to a great and satisfying sense of refreshment.  Your ability to feel the fear and do it anyway will always bring with it a heightened sense of confidence that you will be successful facing life’s gorillas. Anything less is simply leaving you with a false sense of peace.


1. How do you typically respond when faced with the gorillas of life? True leaders are the first one’s in to uncertain and risky situations.  Are you the first one in or do you tend to wait until you’ve “mustered up the courage?”

2. What is your greatest fear when it comes to conflict?

3. In what ways does your fear keep you from living with certainty and boldness?

- Jeff Faulkner

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