Cheryl Farrell

Guest contributor Cheryl Farrell defines courage as the answer to a calling

At a recent storytelling event, I shared how I overcame a childhood trauma. It required a Herculean adult response from me as a 10-year-old. I was outranked, outsized, and out of my depth in this situation. I had no idea how things would turn out. I was pulled by a primal need to survive. I said what needed to be said to be free. It was either me or my enemy who would prevail. And, I preferred it to be me.

After telling the story, an audience member asked, “Where did you find the courage to stand up to the bully?” I’ve been asked that question many times after reciting my story. The answer stays the same: I didn’t find the courage—it found me.

Debunking the myth

Some folks assume courage comes from an inherent trait summoned up at will for a difficult situation. This notion suggests we are born to slay dragons in our paths. That may be a mythological construct. It has not been my life experience. I’m inherently conflict avoidant when I can get away with it. Daring to do the right thing has been an answer to a call that I must answer. For the record, I can be my own adversary when facing change.

I believe that fear is a prerequisite to bravery. Indeed, a great amount of fear. Without the risk of losing something (life, pride, finances, weight, appearance, routine, comfort), the situation is just an inconvenience. Again, in my experience.

One person’s challenge is another person’s opportunity. At one time, it took courage for me to accept a huge job promotion. The job meant a loss of anonymity and my comfortable routine. The very thought was overwhelming. It took a lot in me to make a move, even for “the better.” 

I admire valor I’ve seen in people who:

  • Step away from a relationship when there was no support lined up
  • Seek treatment for substance addiction
  • Assume responsibility for younger siblings when a parent passes away

Trust that courage is looking for you as much as you seek it—take the first step. We have the potential to stand up to our fears. We must be willing to choose a future of uncertainty over the present reality. Answer the call.

Saying “no” when others are silent

When facing a bad situation, it’s easier to go along with the crowd. Why stand out, you ask? In these days of acrimonious turmoil in the business world, we hear about employees saying “no” to hostile work conditions when their colleagues suffer through it. It’s interesting how momentum shifts when one person makes a move and onlookers are then emboldened to make a change. It’s the viral nature of courage. 

I have said “no” to difficult circumstances as an adult. Some might say I was courageous. I have stories with examples, but they would reflect poorly on certain people. So, I give them the gift of privacy. That’s what love looks like. It’s a willingness to care for those who have not cared for us.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time

and always one more time. 

Maya Angelou

Cheryl Farrell is a guest writer for

Cheryl Farrell

Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. As a public speaker, she often examines how older black women excel at the intersections of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is married and has two adult children.

Photo credit - NiketaCH Photography

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