The courage to choose happiness and see the good. |

The Courage to Choose Happiness

Dusty Staub Courage to be Vulnerable and To Love, Courage to See Current Reality, Interviews: Courageous People

A Conversation About Courage, Happiness, and Seeing the Good

Last week, Dusty Staub, best selling author of The 7 Acts of Courage, spoke with Leeza Carlone Steindorf about what it means to know the goodness of who you are, and see the good inherent in others, and in the world.

Leeza is an Executive Coach, Strategic Planning Facilitator, Organizational and Personal Transformation Specialist, and the Award-Wining Author of Connected Parent Empowered Child: Five Key to Raising Happy, Confident, Responsible Kids.

This is their conversation…

Dusty: Thank you so much for talking with me today, Leeza. Would you tell our readers a bit about you and your work? 

Leeza: I am a tour guide for my clients.  I help them claim an outstanding life, both personally and professionally.  In my work, I help people open their eyes to who they are and what they are capable of being and doing.

I coach, facilitate groups, offer trainings and strategic planning in corporations, and work with parents and educational institutions.  In the process of doing this, I help people to get clear.  A client called me a “laser beam”: I am able to bring great focus, clarity and illumination to a person, situation or organization.

Similar to what Theresa Nicassio illustrated with her story of the Golden Buddha when you interviewed her a few weeks ago, my work unearths the hidden treasures that have been buried, not only in an individual but also at the organizational level.  Personally, I delight in life. I have a tremendous sense of awe and a way of being that proceeds from this and that underlines all I do.

Dusty: What is your relationship to Courage?

Leeza: I am someone who has had the courage to reinvent myself, more than once. I grew up in a violent home environment and so I created a defensive structure to survive. Later I found that the angry and unhappy patterns that I had learned to move with did not work out in the world.

They simply did not work for the life I wanted for myself.  As a result of that awareness, I had to reinvent myself in order to be more effective.  Then in my family life, when my marriage ended, I had to do similar inner work to recast myself.

Next, when I experienced challenges in business, reinvention was required yet again.

The courage to choose happiness and see the good. |

I can tell you from my personal experience that happiness is a choice.  By “happiness” I mean a deeply rooted sense of ease and comfort in myself.  This is not based on circumstances; it is how you run your mind and orient your perceptions.

It is possible to be happy anywhere.  When you make it dependent upon circumstances or on the behavior of others, your happiness is always at risk.  The way you look at things, the meaning you give to things, determines your experiences, perceptions and, indeed the worldview you have.  Happiness is possible anywhere and under any circumstances. 

Dusty: Where do you feel courage is most needed today?

Leeza: I think that what is most necessary is to believe in good.  As humans we have come to believe that we are not good enough, that love is not our nature, and that either “there is not enough” or “we are not enough.”  All too many have come to believe that these are facts.

In my Genius of Non-Judgment training, I help break this hurtful, false and self-limiting belief system.  This way of believing can be seen in the news all the time: media feeds it while also feeding on it.  With parents and family members I also see this false narrative all the time.

There is all too often a suffocating atmosphere of doubt and mistrust in families.  I tell parents to “believe” their children, not just to believe in them, and to help them see the good in the world.  In a world so oriented to cynicism this takes courage.  When you limit your view of your children, you also limit what they can see in themselves.

The courage to choose happiness and see the good. |

I see my role as helping leaders, those in organizations and also in families, to conceive of their partners, their children, their employees, as good.

That possibility of good already exists even if it isn’t showing up just then.  When this perspective is held, it allows the person to expand into that larger framework.  This gives room for a possibility that is then called forth into reality for all involved.

This means that when I conceive it – for that is my job wherever I work – when I “know” their amazing-ness, their wholeness, it helps them to know that for themselves.  When I hold that and see it, then they can step into it – it is like opening a portal to a larger, richer, more satisfying reality.

There is a picture I love that captures this so beautifully.  An artist is holding and looking at an egg while on the easel before him he is in the process of painting a bird.  He sees what is emergent and yet already a reality.

Dusty: How do you feel when you exercise courage, and when did you most need courage?

Leeza: For me it is a more a practice of “being” courage.  For example, when you go to a gym and you pick up weights, you’re told if you do a certain amount of repetitions over time then you will get muscle.  That’s the idea of exercise.

But my belief and my approach is that you are already there, you have that tone, and by “being” courage then it simply grows and manifests fully in your life.  When I work with people they get a visceral experience that they are capable of anything of which they can conceive.  If you can conceive it then you can create it, manifest it.  It is already who you are and it is part of your nature.  You don’t have to become it since you are already it.

The courage to choose happiness and see the good. |

Where courage comes in is that you need it to step into your magnificence.  The specific Acts of Courage that are needed are the 2nd and 6th ones from your book, The 7 Acts of Courage.

The 2nd act is the Courage to See Current Reality.  This means looking at the facts and differentiating them from your personal perceptions and feelings.  The courage to say, for example, if your spouse walks away, that the facts are that he or she is “ending the relationship.”

Knowing that your perceptions and feelings are valid helps; just remember they are not necessarily the objective truth. There is a difference here between holding a personal / perceptual truth versus seeing that it is not really an objective “fact.”

The personal perception can be “I am not good enough” or “they are a horrible person” but those perceptions do not make them fact.  Having the courage to look things in the eye, to see the facts and acknowledge your feelings while not mistaking them for objective facts is critical.

Then the 6h act is the Courage to be Vulnerable, to be Love.  This is huge.  Not making your love dependent on the actions or responses of another person is liberating and is the path to living wholly.

To be love, for me, is a way of being that is not dependent on anyone else.

It is my internal state, how I hold that person and how I respond, which is totally independent of how they are relating or acting. For me, it is the willingness to stand naked in front of anyone and say, “I am here to serve. I am love.”

The courage to choose happiness and see the good. |

In my life I have had to consistently develop the courage to step forward and to be fully present with this truth, even when working with organizations.  It is transformative when I stand in this place of deep awareness.  When I share my nakedness, have the courage to be vulnerable in all of the aspects then others can step forward in some very powerful ways.  We need to stand in the same place.  Celebrating that courageous vulnerability is very powerful and generative.

Dusty: What is your best Advice to Others – your Call to Action?

Leeza: My best advice and guidance is to have the ultimate courage to be radical enough, in the face of unkindness or attack, to believe in the goodness inherent in you, in others and in the world.  To find the courage to not only be vulnerable but also the courage to speak out and to act from that place.

You then end up being like a laser. You cut through the appearance of harshness, judgment and cruelty in order to know that this goodness is who you are and that it is also inherent in others, and in the world.

Find out more about Leeza and her work at

Leeza can be contacted at [email protected]

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