When a friend emailed me to see if I’d be interested in featuring the “woman behind the Courage Wall,” I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that the project would go viral, even earning her a spot on the Today Show. Had I known Nancy then, I would have realized that her inspirational outlook on life and infallible work ethic would ensure that the Courage Wall would become a smashing success.
And a smashing success it is. A community project that catapulted to the national and international stage just a week after the project’s launch, the Courage Wall has also been covered by Al Jazeera, ABC, Forbes and the Washington Post, sparking the conversation on courage and fear in millions around the globe. A 8′ x 20′ chalkboard that reads, “I wish I had the courage to…,” invites passers-by to confront the fears that hold them back from living big, authentic lives.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people as a personal and leadership coach. Pretty much every transformational coaching session boils down to this: naming a fear and declaring a courageous action to overcome it. For many, the fear lies under the surface. It’s not even on the radar that the force of fear is at play. But digging deeper, it is usually at the root of feeling trapped, unhappy and powerless. Fear is underneath the stress that makes us eat too much, drives us to fill every waking moment with noise and robs us of being our best selves.”
For the past 15 years, Nancy has run Belmont, Inc. a brand- and culture-building agency. As a leadership coach and organizational community builder, Nancy works with leaders to define who they are, what they stand for and how they want to show up in the world. Nancy facilitates groups and and leads workshops on branding, culture-building, courage, values and joy. She also recently launched a product line on Etsy featuring inspirational tools to help people live big.
We asked Nancy what her two biggest insights have been since the start of the Courage Wall:
1) Fear is part of what it is to be human. It is not the absence of fear, rather the way we interact with it that determines how big of a life we live.
2) Inside every one of us there is a more creative, authentic and bold person. Many times we don’t even realize what we’ve been holding back from ourselves and the rest of the world until we take a moment to reflect.
So, what’s in her future? “My hope is that this board at this location is only the beginning of a courage campaign. This campaign can raise the consciousness of countless people to live with more purpose and passion.” As for the next place the wall will go, she’s still figuring that part out. She’s hoping to place it in a new community within the city of Alexandria. We will definitely let you know when we find out!
Nancy is wearing a dress, jewelry, shoes and a bag–all from Kiskadee.