The courage to believe there is room for everybody.

ben_arms_wide_700

Launching this course was a huge act of courage for me.

I had been designing the curriculum for Cultivating Courage last year and was getting really excited about the idea of a 30 day courage challenge. One day I googled “30 days of courage” (what I was originally going to call the class) to see if anyone was doing something similar. I was shocked to discover that not only was someone already doing a course by that name, but it was someone I knew! Someone in my creative circle who I have always adored and admired – Marianne Elliott. Crap! I thought.

While we hiked the following week (she happened to be visiting the bay area from New Zealand) I brought it up: “Marianne, you won’t believe this, but I have been creating a curriculum for a class about courage and just discovered that you already launched one! I would never want you to think I was copying you.”

She laughed. “That is hilarious! Kate Swoboda just emailed me about the same thing. She is launching a 30 days of courage class also!”

My heart sank. Another person in our circle offering a 30 days of courage class as well?! This was getting to be a bummer. And I was launching last, I thought. It was going to look like I copied.

Even though Marianne was relaxed about it, I was catastrophizing back at my desk.

  • They’ll probably do it better than me.
  • Look at Marianne. She was a UN peacekeeper in Afghanistan! What do I know about courage?
  • Kate’s whole website is about courage. Maybe this is her terrain and not mine.
  • They’re going to think I’m copying.
  • I have nothing unique to say.I suck. I should just quit.
And then I got a note from Marianne.
She said: “I’ve had friends totally freak out when they see someone else doing something similar to what they are doing – either because they assume they are being copied (which I think is very rarely the case) or because they think they’ll be competing.
 
I’d love to find another path through this, I think it’s magical that you and Kate and I are all in the same space geographically at the moment so we can meet in person and talk about it. And I really do think there is some powerful learning in here, learning worth sharing once we get there.”

And that’s when I had a revelation — that there was an opportunity for us to decide, collectively, that there was room for all of us. That we didn’t have to compete but could support each other instead.

I was nervous when I got to the restaurant. We chatted about life in general for a long time, then I shyly brought up the courage courses. We each took turns describing what our courses were like and we started to see what I sincerely hoped was true — that we each had our own unique voice. That our approaches were different. That there was no way anyone else’s course could be like mine, because I am the one writing it!

I also remembered that I have my people and they have theirs. And that our people wanted us. They wanted our voice, not somebody else’s.

In the midst of this conversation, I also remembered my first art wound. I was in the 4th grade and we were told to write an essay about something we were afraid of. The teacher gave the example of being afraid to drive Highway 17, a dangerous highway near our home where people had accidents regularly. I have the same fear! I thought. What a coincidence! And so I wrote about that.

The next day she held up my paper in front of the class and read the first paragraph. “What’s wrong with this paper?” she boomed.

“She copied you!” the kids shouted.

“What grade do you think this student should get?”

“An F!” the kids yelled.

I was aghast. And crushed. And humiliated. And wanted to die.

To this day, I am deeply afraid of anyone thinking I have copied them. I try hard to be unique in everything I do and feel horrified (the same horror as that day) if anyone says my work is like someone else’s. I was careful to not even read the sales pages for Marianne or Kate’s courses lest I inadvertently be influenced in some way by what they were creating. Crazy, right? This wound has held me back in countless ways, often paralyzing me even before beginning. (Why bother? Other people have already said it or said it better) 

As I shared this with Marianne and Kate, I could feel a new layer of that story was being healed, right there at the restaurant. We actively decided that we would not compete with each other, but would be allies instead. We decided to be examples of a different way through. That instead of feeling threatened by each other, we would choose to support + celebrate each other’s work. 

In a world where we are all vulnerable to the comparison game, the not-enough game, the there’s-no-room-for-me game, this felt like such a sweet victory.

In the end, I decided to change the title of the course to Cultivating Courage (hooray!) so as to not create confusion. This felt good and right. The whole process though was, you guessed it! an exercise in courage:

  • Courage to keep going anyway.
  • Courage to keep writing in the face of my very active gremlins.
  • Courage to trust myself–trust that I had something to say and would say it in my own unique way.
  • Courage to believe that there was room for everybody.

I’m so glad I did. This course has been such a bright spot in my life.

This is one of the many stories in the Cultivating Courage course. I would be so honored if you would join me!

cultivating_courage_header_612

The next session begins on Monday, November 4th, 2013. Cost is $79

button-register-green

 

 

30 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Ahhh, I love this! Thank you for sharing! My friend is writing a book right now and has also faced this thought of, “but my idea isn’t completely original!” Her publisher told her to think about all the children’s books that are about elephants and that more books about elephants will be written and sold. It’s possible because each one has a unique voice and perspective. It’s silly but it really helps me to remember this!

  2. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful story to read this morning! So uplifting and we have all face this.. Thank you!

  3. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Love this story, and this realization! I feel like there’s so much competition between women, and I love that you three found a different path.

  4. Claudia
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I took this course last year – it so miraculously changed my life! I highly recommend it! Courage really is a practice and this course gets the ball rolling. And reading this story sends shivers up my spine – this is exactly the position I am in right now!!! And, yes, I have my own voice and story behind my ideas. Thank you Andrea, you’re awesome.

  5. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    PS. That teacher was way out of line. An important part of finding ourselves as artists – our voices, our stories – is celebrating the work of others. Plus, how many people are afraid of heights, snakes, bridges??

  6. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh, yes!!!! LOVE this post. I love the stories in it. I love that there is room for everyone. I love how YOU model courage for us. Absolutely beautiful.

    P.S. I’m so incredibly disappointed in that teacher of yours way back when. How very sad that she was coming from such a small, small place!

  7. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I love this story and I’m f-ing pissed at that teacher!! What an awful thing to do/happen… she wasn’t thinking at all. Thank you for this story and important reminder. I know I needed it! xo

  8. Ewa
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Andrea for your inspiring story. Courage for everyone! Courage to belive that there is room for everybody! I love it.

  9. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I hate your 4th grade teacher. (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I know hate is bad.)

  10. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. Just a couple days ago, I created a tool that really excites me. I’m amazed at myself for creating it. After I outlined it, I was pondering over it. Suddenly, I felt sure that it was really similar to a tool a good friend of mine created. It IS similar actually, but not the same. I still feel a bit unsure and plan to share it with her. Reading this helped so much. xo

  11. Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this story my friend. I’m grateful to be walking this particular courageous path with you and Kate.

    Love, M

  12. Tanis
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU! Just what a needed to read today. You’re awesome :)

  13. Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    As always, your courage inspires. Just signed up for the course! I have a heavy few weeks (actually til the end of the year) ahead of me, and I need to flex my courage muscle.

  14. Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I so love this story and can really relate to unraveling these types of experiences of childhood that can have such a profound impact.

    This also reminds me of the Picasso / Braque dynamic, how each painter was pursuing Cubism in their own way separately before they met in Paris. Then they discovered each other and went on to inspire each other to push their medium further than they might have ever done alone. It doesn’t seem like either one of them questioned their own voice. Rather, they recognized that they were creating out of a universal zeitgeist that they had somehow tapped in to.

    Go with it! It is obviously taking you all to amazing places already. :)

  15. Posted October 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I love how taking on courage has served up this related story that has had so much power over you, whose time has come to be rewritten…and healed. Life is so amazing that way. Thank you for standing in courage for all of us. And for being such a powerful role model of how this work is done!

  16. Posted October 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this is such an inspiring story that I can relate to on so many levels. You described this challenge that so many of us go through so eloquently. I love the title Cultivating Courage. Sounds perfect.

    By the way that teacher should never have been hired. What a mean awful bully she was.

  17. Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    You just unstuck me! Thank you and thank you again.

  18. Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this! Now I am REALLY excited for Monday – and I rarely say that!!!

  19. Jennifer
    Posted October 30, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    I love this! Bravo to you lovely ladies! We should all do more encouraging and supporting…

  20. Posted October 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    This post is so beautifully put and I just can’t help but to join in and echo the chorus of “thank you”!

    When I worked at REI my boss always used to say that other outdoor stores weren’t our competition- it was video games that we were competing against. I thought it was brilliant. Building a large community of courageous souls takes more than one teacher.

    The more people in the universe speaking the truth the better off we’ll all be.

  21. Lisa
    Posted October 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Love this Andrea! So interesting to find the history of our triggers. I’m definitely in for round 2 of this, so will keep my eyes peeled in the future. Big hugs!

  22. Posted October 31, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Andrea this is a powerful, vulnerable and absolutely healing story and sharing. I am so glad that you shared this with us. I know what you are saying in every part of my bones, How many projects have I abandoned for fear that someone else may feel I have copied them. But like you said no two course will ever be exactly the same once we authentically show up. And we cannot meet the requirements of everyone out there so there is more than enough to go around for everyone. Now isn’t that fantastic. I know the course will reach the right people. Marianne took that courage step and how divine and aligned that you could all meet. You also now have a perfect medicine story about courage to share in your course. Seems to me this is all part of the curriculumn!

  23. Katrin
    Posted November 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    This strikes a a very female problem. Surely most male entrepreneurs would’ve been like: sure there’s competition – I wouldn’t have expected anything else! And of course there’ll be copying – that’s called inspiration! After all, this is a business supposed to earn money-why try to reinvent the wheel every time?
    That said, I admire your courage to step into vulnerability time and again. That’s an area where men can learn a lot from women.

  24. Katrin
    Posted November 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    This strikes me as a a very female problem. Surely most male entrepreneurs would’ve been like: sure there’s competition – I wouldn’t have expected anything else! And of course there’ll be copying – that’s called inspiration! After all, this is a business supposed to earn money-why try to reinvent the wheel every time?
    That said, I admire your courage to step into vulnerability time and again. That’s an area where men can learn a lot from women.

  25. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Andrea,

    Usually I don’t leave public comments on posts, but, hey, this is about courage, about showing up, and being real. While there is much, very much I can share on the topic of courage, I will simply share a – thank you – and a – me too, me too! What a relief we are not alone. There is always something of value in your writing and I look forward to when I can participate in one of your workshops. They sound divine.

  26. Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    This is so timely for me! I have been facilitating birth and parenting workshops in person for years, and have been brainstorming how to develop online offerings to serve more people. I recently saw some similar online offerings and like you, I immediately went to fearful, negative, why bother kind of thoughts. This post has given me lots to think about! There probably is room for everybody, and that thought certainly goes more alongside the attitude of abundance and gratitude that I’ve been trying to cultivate. Thanks so much!

  27. isavoyage
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Andrea, I cry almost every time i read you, isn’t it crazy?
    Thank you so much for sharing all this.

  28. Hannah
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, this story resonated with me so much! I am so glad you were able to meet with Kate and Marianne and talk things through. It sounds to me like the 3 of you are really picking up on a current of need in the universe and I love that you are all thinking of your own paths to serving that need. This round of Cultivating Courage doesn’t work for me schedule-wise, but I hope you offer it again because I’d love to take it!

  29. Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s so nice to see that encouragement is still a prized virtue. Thank you for the post.

  30. Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing to pay a visit this web page and reading the
    views of all friends on the topic of this paragraph, while I
    am also zealous of getting knowledge.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Hug Your Fear » Resource Roundup – 11.01.13 on November 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    […] to courage and doubt (which I consider close relatives to fear). Andrea Scher of Superhero Life reflects on her feelings, thoughts and doubts in the midst of creating a class on courage after finding out that similar courses had been done […]

  2. […] There is room for everyone. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*