"I want to revive courage"

By Lisa Marshall | Director of Wild Women On Top 

 “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain  

Our everyday lives seem in the most part to be focused on creating comfort, reducing stress and then repeating this. Most of us struggle to achieve the second part but are quite happy to remain content and comfortable in the everyday habits and daily routines we create. The modern world tempts us to spend money on gadgets and experiences that bring us more perceived comfort and in some cases supposedly make our lives easier. In many cases, we repeat this pattern in trying to make our children’s lives as comfortable as they can be – we buy them the gadgets they so desire and work hard to ensure they have the creature comforts that our society deems are valuable. But the outcome of this is that we’re creating environments in which difficulty, challenge and discomfort are foreign subjects and, as a result, our kids have a very low resilience to dealing with change or unexpected circumstances. Perhaps we should ask ourselves; are we doing the right thing?

This comfortable life we so meticulously create serves no good when thrown into the uncontrollable wilderness. You are exposed to the weather and elements and may be out trekking in a remote area where a shelter is not an option when a big snow storm or pelting rain and howling wind ensue. You are faced with hunger, not having access to your gadgets, being too cold or too hot, or feeling physically exhausted midway through your 10km ascent. It is then you must draw on your inner strengths to help you get through challenging terrain and tough conditions. In these situations where the way forward is as long and hard as the way back, you have no other option but to find the mental and emotional tenacity to face and overcome constant challenges for the sanity of yourself but also the motivation of those around you. 

Having the courage to take on a challenging goal in which you know you will face some of your biggest fears, is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Courage comes from the heart – and whilst our heartbeat keeps ticking courage lives within. When combined with belief – it is courage that enables one to face fears and get through the scary moments of stepping over the edge as you abseil down a mountain face, or trekking in snow on an icy ledge when you’ve never walked on ice or snow in your life.  

Courage sometimes feels like an old-fashioned value that we’ve long forgotten about. I want to revive “courage” and let you know that it’s possible to master your fears with the free and simple tools of belief, friends and physical fitness. . I’ll never forget my Mum Delia, people told her she was crazy, but I thought she was wonderful. At age 70 she stood on top of the world – Mt Kilimanjaro. She was slight, small framed and bony – a tent, altitude and extreme cold were foreign but she trained hard for 6 months and her goal became possible. She carried her shopping home from the supermarket each day in her backpack and trek training on the soft sand along the beach several times a week to give her the strength and belief that she could join a team of women half her age to take on this challenge.  When you ask her of her adventure, she remembers the blanket of a million stars that smiled down from above, the snows of Kilimanjaro and the views from the summit. It was coming up so close and personal with these natural wonders that made her forget about her biggest fear - the cold.  She made it, at 70 she made it. She climbed to the highest point in Africa and did it all herself – I’ve never been so proud. 

Delia felt she had been treated to a slice of heaven. When asked how this experience changed her life, she says:

“I think I have been training for this all my life. It made me realise how all the years of exercise and healthy eating that I have put in, counted for so much. My age didn’t matter. I was embraced by the team. This experience was life changing. It has given me courage. It has made me feel stronger and given me the belief that anything is possible with the right people around you and the right frame of mind. I will never forget the feeling of camaraderie within our team, the tears and laughter we shared.”

As you ponder what will be different this year, choose a goal, let go of your fears and let courage take your hand. Fear should not be seen in the negative. In fact, fear is what focuses you in those moments when you stand on the precipice of a steep mountain side, or on the edge of making a life changing decision. Your heart will let you know when you have a goal that excites you and scares you at the same time.

Lisa is currently climbing Mt Kenya, Africa’s third highest peak. For many of the team, this will complete their goal of climbing Africa’s three highest peaks, having summited Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro previously. 






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