Have you ever had a dream bigger than yourself? A dream that had you wondering, “How am I going to make what I want to do a reality?”

I was recently told that I’m an extremely brave women. Now, that’s not how I’ve ever thought of myself, but after hearing this from a few people, I started thinking; why would others view me as brave or courageous? What does it really mean to be brave or courageous?

The conclusion I came up with is that I’m willing to take action regardless of the fear I may have about the outcome. After all, action is the only ingredient in life that ensures a result. It may not be the intended result, but there will always be a result. I’ve learned that in every situation it’s not about what happens to us that matters the most, it’s how we react to the situation. Every situation, regardless of how big or small, will have a lesson that we can choose to learn from or ignore. I’ve learned a few things over the past 40 years that has transformed me into the person that I am today, and I believe that every moment of every day has the potential of being a learning lesson.

I want to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned, and as I continue to grow personally and professionally, I’m positive I will learn even more. Here are a few of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned and put into practice every day:

No One Succeeds Alone

Even though most of us would like to take credit for all that we’ve accomplished in life or in business, not a single person can truly say they did it all by themselves. Everyone has had help with learning skills, practicing becoming a leader, developing a product or service, or emotional and spiritual encouragement. All are vital to growing as a person and a professional. The lesson here is to strive to always thank the individuals that have helped you in a way that leaves them better off for having known you.

Here’s one example of this in my life; I was recently doing some shopping at a local retail store here in Sioux Falls and the clerk that was helping me seemed very tired and lonely. She was trying very hard to be friendly so she was chatty and polite. I had several more stops to make and I was in a hurry, but a couple of the comments that this stranger made to me really caused me to slow down and talk with her for a few minutes. I thanked her for her help and wished her a blessed evening and then went on with my errands.

A few days later I was in the drive through at a local fast food stop with both of my children in the car with me. When I got to the window to pay for our order, the attendant was the same women that had helped me a few days prior at the retail store, I made the comment to her that she was a busy gal as this was at least job number two for her. Her response blew me away and had both of my children asking, “What did you do Mom?” The women thanked me for being an Angel in her life, that I had made her day at the retail store by seeing her and giving her a few minutes of my time. The moral of this is that you never truly know what impact you might have on a complete stranger, let alone the people that you care very deeply for.

Fear is Natural and Healthy

Fear of the unknown, fear of “what if,” and fear of failure, all of these are normal, natural, and, to a certain extent, even healthy. The only difference between fear and courage is action.

I’ve heard the definition of courage as being without fear, and that has not been my experience at all. I believe that courage is being scared the entire time you’re in action and never stopping as a result of that fear.

Personal Growth is Contagious

As a leader, I try to lead by example. If I’m asking my family members, teammates, or co-workers to stretch their boundaries, or go above and beyond what is necessary then I believe that I should do the same. As I have broadened my view of the world around me and faced a few of my fears I’ve seen firsthand how this inspires others, both at home and at work.

This past summer I was extremely fortunate to attend a leadership conference with some of the best speakers that I’ve ever heard and each of the speakers at this conference made reference to facing your fears. Before I left the city of Las Vegas, I faced my fear of heights…… I went sky diving! At first I thought this would just be a situation of I just need to get through this and then I will no longer be afraid of heights. I was very surprised at the results. I still have hesitation with heights, this was not a quick fix but it was a learning lesson for me. I can do anything that I set my mind to and put into action. For the record, I would do it again.

The pursuit of growth in every aspect of my life, spiritual, personal, and professional, has been scary and thrilling all at the same time. I’m reminded that having goals and drive is great, however, taking time to evaluate where I have been, where I’m planning on going, and how I’m getting there is the foundation of all lessons that I’ve mentioned in this article. I will not succeed on my own, I will have fear, and I will continue to inspire and lead others. The last 40 years have been quite a trip and I’m looking forward to many more to come!