'Courage Wall' in Alexandria, Va., Gives Passers-By a Place to Name Fears and Move On
"Once a fear is named, its power starts to fade."
— -- It was the first fear Nancy Belmont wrote on the "courage wall" that almost kept her from creating the wall at all.
Now, the courage wall is "the most successful thing" she's ever done, Belmont told ABC News, all because she faced her fear and took that first step.
Located in in Alexandria, Virginia, the Courage Wall is an 8-feet tall by 20-feet wide chalkboard with one simple phrase at the top and blank lines below for passers-by to fill in:
“I Wish I Had The Courage To ...”
A leadership coach for individuals and organizations, Belmont said she recently completed a "360" -- essentially a leadership evaluation that includes a self-assessment and an assessment from others. On both counts, Belmont said her courageous authenticity was lacking.
It was time to "walk the talk," she said. "I felt like a fraud."
With the idea of a similar "Before I Die" project from New Orleans a few years ago in the back of her mind, Belmont said the first fear she had to face -- and the first one she wrote on the wall -- was "I wish I had the courage not to worry about money." When you're running a business, she said, "You have to think about where else that money could be going. The wall doesn't cost a lot to run, but there are costs involved."
It's very common, Belmont said, that people come to the wall -- and go through life for that matter -- not realizing their fears are controlling them.
"They have all these stories that are layered on top of the fears. They might think they don't have a choice, but when you peel away the story and face the fear the story melts away. Having a victory over a fear builds the courage inside and then the initial fear seems ridiculous, so you tackle bigger and bigger fears."
The project will go until the first week and June, and after that Belmont hopes to take it on the road to other places in Alexandria and maybe even around the nation. The response on social media, she said "has been overwhelming" in a good way. The project uses #WeLiveBig to keep tabs on what people are saying.
Which is how Belmont came across this gem.
It's not the only heartwarming -- and heart-wrenching -- message she's seen. This one was written by a young boy:
"I feel like I'm finally giving in to the voices in my head telling me this is the work I need to be doing," she said. "This isn't about me, it's about people supporting each other. Everyone wants to live with passion and a purpose."
And because of this project, it's very possible more people will. Last night, as Belmont walked by the courage wall, one new message stood out from the rest.
"I wish I had the courage to live big like Nancy."
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