It turns out the COUR in COURAGE comes from the Latin word COR meaning "heart." Back in the day, COURAGE meant "to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." (Read more here). Wow, it literally comes from the HEART. I saw a meme once and posted it on Facebook: "Happiness is a form of Courage." It really resonated WITH me.
This year, I feel like it has come up for me. A lot.
In June, I heard about this 3-day Corporate Happiness Bootcamp in Mumbai. I signed up at the last minute on a whim not knowing I actually needed a visa. I ended up getting my visa approved at the ninth hour (!), packing quickly, and getting on a plane.
Thank you, Internet.
During the bootcamp, I was inspired by an Indian guy named Hemal. (Incidentally his name in Korean means "seafood.") He and his wife had started OktoBuzz, a digital marketing company based in Mumbai. He would stand up during the bootcamp and share all of the cool things they had been doing to spark and sustain happiness in the workplace.
Gathering a bit of COURAGE, and full of giddy happiness, I approached him at the end of the 3 days and asked if I could bring The Happiness Workshop to OktoBuzz.
"I have a crazy idea..." I began and before I continued, he replied, "I love crazy..."
That's how you know it's the beginning of not just a good conversation, but a great one.
The day I was due at OktoBuzz, my own head was abuzz: I was texting back and forth with Neha, Hemal's wife and co-founder, I was prepping my human power point at the same time, trying to figure out how I would navigate my way there, cutting pieces of paper, and trying not to panic too much.
I ended up taking a taxi to their office. It's close to a bazaar which was jam-packed full of people, people on bikes, auto rickshaws, cars, the incessant sounds of honking. I remember looking out of the window and thinking:
What have I gotten myself into?
What if I can't find the office?
What if they don't like the workshop?
What if...what if...what if...
And then I thought about just how much I believed in what I was doing and just how courageous-- full of heart--I was and how my work allowed me to push the boundaries of COURAGE in the form of HAPPINESS.
"We have an open door policy here," Hemal said with his kind and gentle demeanor after I had hesitantly knocked on his office door. "Anyone can come in, even if we are interviewing."
"Would you like some snacks and tea?" Neha asked warmly. The other staff members generously offered me a plate of deep fried goodness in the form of Indian snacks and a tea guy showed up with chai.
"We can go outside and run around in the parking lot..." Hemal offered in response to my concern about space for a communication game I had wanted us to play.
It turned out to be one of those incredible workshops. In fact, one of THE most incredible workshops I have ever done. In that cozy, Harry Potter-themed, open door, snack + chai filled office, the OktoBuzz staff had done all of the activities eagerly, joyfully, and WITH full hearts.
In the organized chaos of the streets of Mumbai, teams went out to spread HAPPINESS full heartedly, unabashedly WITH COURAGE.
Then it dawned on me over the most delicious dosa dinner ever with Neha and Hemal, as they recalled how they had met, fallen in love, and then given birth, if you will to OktoBuzz, that they too were COURAGEOUS.
They had created this company from the ground up (which by any stretch of the imagination is tough enough) but on top of that, they had dared to HAPPIFY their workplace and workforce.
I have to say, they were all already super HAPPY before The Happiness Workshop even began.
"Yeah, a lot of our staff will shop around and go to other startups, but they will inevitably come back to us since we prioritize HAPPINESS in the workplace," Hemal explained humbly while Neha nodded.
After treating me to such an incredible dosa meal, and patiently explaining what each dish was, they drove me all the way back to my hotel--almost an hour's drive. Before I got out, Neha turned to me and presented me with a gift: "We hang this above doors to ward away evil spirits." It was a beautiful and ornate string of gold leaves. I remember thinking to myself after I profusely thanked them: How on earth did they find the time to get this gift for me? What an amazing couple.
That night, back in my hotel room, reflecting on the incredible day I had had, I thought: If I had not been COURAGEOUS enough to come to Mumbai for the first time solo, if I had not been COURAGEOUS enough to attend the Corporate Happiness Bootcamp, if I had not been COURAGEOUS enough to approach Hemal and Neha at the end of the Bootcamp, I would have never experienced any of, well, anything (!). And my HAPPINESS level would have not been at an all time high...
How many of us hold ourselves back from taking that COURAGEOUS leap: small, medium, or big?
Recently, I met a woman named Ai. She currently lives in Korea, but she is originally from China. This woman to me really embodied COURAGE. She left a stable job as a Communication Studies professor in the U.S., a job she had worked really hard to get, and had taken the leap to become a digital nomad/eduentrepreneur, as well as inspire others to take that same leap. She started from zero and today she is a top writer for Medium, a prolific blogger, live streamer, social influencer, and was recently featured in Forbes. Check out the article here.
In our first meeting yesterday, she said, "We need to empower our selves." That sentence stayed WITH me. I mean, we are always looking for empowerment externally. We see famous people, celebrities, we FOLLOW people on social media passively. Yet when it comes to our selves, we are constantly working on perfecting that next selfie.
So here's to taking just one step on that HAPPINESS journey. Whether it takes you to a "Mumbai," or an unfamiliar crowded bazaar, or to start your own thing--as long as you are empowering your SELF, WITH heart, COURAGE, you know you're on the right track.
*Inspired by and dedicated to the Nehas, Hemals, and Ais of this world who dare WITH COURAGE to be HAPPY.*