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Courage is Contagious

(This post was originally published on January 13, 2016.)

Kelley Snyder and Cathy Winterfield, both ICF certified life coaches, are co-authors of a new blog series called “10 Rules of Engagement For Rising Strong.” Each week one of ten powerful truths about courage, vulnerability and resilience will be shared (as written by Brené Brown in Rising Strong) and expanded upon with personal reflections so you “get” each concept in a more intimate and meaningful way.

Rule #9: Courage is contagious.

If you know me then you know I love watching TED talks. I have been known to pass several hours in one sitting, glued to my iPad before bed. Hey, some people binge watch Downton Abbey, I gorge on TED’s ideas worth spreading.

If you haven’t seen Jill Bolte Taylor’s 2008 TED talk “Stroke of Insight” — it’s a must-see in which the Harvard brain scientist describes her massive stroke in 1996 that resulted in loss of language, movement and understanding. It was an experience that forever changed her perspective on life. During her hospital stay in her multi-year recovery, Taylor became acutely aware of the importance of the energy of those that came into her hospital room. In fact, she had a sign posted for all who entered:


Taylor knew that people are energy. Our thoughts are energy. Our temperament is energy. And, our energy fills the room we walk into and infects everything it touches.

Case in point, years ago in an interview Oprah did with the late Maya Angelou, a story was retold of Maya telling a party guest to leave her home after telling a racist joke. Maya justified her action adding, “Those negative words climb into the woodwork and into the furniture, and the next thing you know they'll be on my skin.”

I wholeheartedly believe what Brené Brown puts forth in this 9th rule of engagement for Rising Strong — courage is contagious — but, respectfully, it’s incomplete. The scientific truth is ALL ENERGY IS CONTAGIOUS. Just as positive energy like courage, joy, laughter, hope are contagious so is negative energy like anger, fear and sadness.

So the question is, what energy do you transmit?

Are you transmitting courage or fear? Worry or peace? Bitterness or joy? You will infect others you come into even the briefest contact with throughout your day. For those with strong emotional immunity, negative energy will not take hold. Others won’t be as fortunate and unintentional negative energy could infect them for days or weeks or do further damage to their already fragile emotional state.

Do us all a favor and check your energy before you leave the house. Or better yet, before any human interaction. Let go of any negative energy and intensify your positive energy. Infect us with your love, peace, courage, hope — all forms of your positive energy. And watch it spread.

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If you would like to boost your courage, I invite you to join me and my colleague Cathy Winterfield on January 29th for a transformational 3-day retreat - Living Brave: A Journey to Rising Strong™. Don't delay - there are a limited number of spaces left!

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