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Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but here I go. In the Wizard of Oz it wasn’t the Scarecrow that got wisdom. It was the “Cowardly Lion”! And I think I can prove it or at least give a perspective on why fear, courage, and wisdom are not separated. In the movie, you may recall all 4 sojourners (the girl, the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion) have a personal dilemma. Each finds strength in coming together against all odds to achieve the unthinkable…steal the witches broom. Each has their own fear.

When they meet up there are varied levels of experiences, this movie is rich in personal courage. Of which I lacked every time those dang flying monkeys came on the screen. I hated those creatures. The witch was a piece of cake, but those monkeys freaked me out. For years I covered my eyes or left the room when they went off to snatch Dorothy and Toto. Too much fear and not enough personal courage. Then one day…I did it. I kept my eyes open. It was frightening, but yet somehow I could sense a personal breakthrough. My courage had grown. You see, it is counter intuitive, but fear equals courage and courage is about being wise.

In my humble opinion the scarecrow got a brain and could do math, but my sense is the Lion was shifted the most when he found his “personal courage”. Yet who was most afraid during times of challenge, who stepped up and found that courage he needed was within him? The Cowardly Lion. And through his fear he found out he could be courageous. I’ve had some challenges and wouldn’t begin to compare them to flying monkeys, witches, or being in the heat of gun battle in war. But I’ve known the fear of dying at a young age.

When I was 11 years old my life turned on its edge. I had ruptured appendix, ruptured for 10 days they say. By the time I was in the hospital I faced death square in the eyes. I was septic and essentially the surgeon told my parents, ” We opened him up and cleaned out all the infection. We took out several feet of his intestines and its highly unlikely he will live.” I went into the hospital weighing 136 pounds and 4 weeks later I came out at 96 pounds on Easter weekend. Weak, disoriented and wondering about this gigantic vertical scar the length of my stomach.

Courage comes when we face our fear and move into our unknowns with a “willingness to act”. Sometimes without a strong sense of reason. The Lion, like me, got thrust into a situation that he didn’t want to be a part of, but in the end he was the guy who had the courage to stand up and lead. My wisdom from my experience has given me courage to take on risks that others may not even tackle. I experienced at a very young age how fragile your life really is. I would like to say this was my first experience with hospitals, but it wasn’t I had fingers on my left hand ripped off in a farm accident at the age of 6. That’s another post some day.

We can only manage fear and use it as force for growth potential. We need to point out courage in others to reinforce their decisions to “look at the flying monkeys”. We can become blind to courage because what we think is the ordinary for one person— is requiring an extraordinary amount of courage on their part. Courage is learned as much as experienced. Encouraging people to be afraid and fearful isn’t the point. Supporting them to acknowledge their fear and manage it will boost their willingness to take some actions they otherwise may not have taken.

To wrap up this post. I would leave you with this thought on wisdom.  No Risk equals No Courage, No Courage equals Limiting our Potential for Growth. I know this to be true for me, because I have seen myself put fears out in front of my success. That way I won’t be disappointed or even take the risk to begin with…I don’t like being disappointed. So, my advice is don’t be stupid about risk, rather be courageous. Challenge yourself in small ways to act…I did. Go ahead look at the monkeys.