I realized later in my adult years that the level of courage one has for themselves has a direct correlation to the level of love that one has for themselves. The more you love yourself, the more courage you have. Let’s work through this idea for a moment. Think of a time when you had the courage to stand out and be bold. What did it take for you to break through your fears and say out loud, “Yes, I will do it!”, “Yes, I’m in!”, “Here I go!” There is a moment just before you made your bold statement, the moment when your heart starts to beat faster. The moment when you get anxious and excited. The moment that scares you to your core and makes you want to jump and hide at the same time. It’s that moment that you decide to choose love over fear. Something inside of you chose to put yourself first above anything else. You were willing to take the risk and ignore any consequences. And if there were any consequences, you were ready to deal with it. You were fearless. We’ve all had these moments in our lives, big or small. But why is it still so hard to choose love over fear? Why are these moments few and far between? And how can we keep choosing love over fear? When we first started our company SPARK Creations in November 2011, the intention was to elevate women through our SPARK Essentials Women’s 2.5 Days Weekend Experience. I was recovering from a bad divorce and my business partner Aileen was searching for a more meaningful career. Both of us lacked confidence, were in constant self-doubt, and felt unworthy. We were living in fear. Creating the women’s retreat was not only about supporting other women to rediscover their authentic selves and learn tools to stay grounded and true to their essence every day, it was also a space for Aileen and I to do the same with the participants. We were growing together. What we discovered over and over again and affirmed through working with hundreds of women over 14 retreats (one retreat with men), is that every human being has some level of fear within their hearts. The more resistance to change, the greater the fear. The more excuses, the greater the fear. The more negative thoughts, the greater the fear. All of this fear has grown in each of us through our own individual life experiences and the only way to push through fear is love. At SPARK, love is one of our company’s core values. It’s also a personal core value for everyone on our team and our partners (a.k.a. clients) that work with us. Yet, love is still not openly received in the workplace…yet. Why? Because we all have different relationships with love. But what I know is true and in my heart is that regardless of that view on love, we all intuitively know how it feels and that it is a good thing. When you come from a place of love, only great and magical things can happen. That’s the truth. So how does one keep in the flow of love? To keep things simple, we have an acronym for love. We invite you to try one or all of these tips. Like any new habit, each inspired action counts. L – Learn about yourself O – Open yourself to courageous experiences V – Share your voice out loud E – Embrace your whole being L – Learn about yourself If I were to give my younger self advice, it would be to start learning about yourself. I waited until a divorce in my mid 30s to finally ask the question, “What do I want?” For most of my life, I depended on others’ ideas and opinions to direct my decisions. I didn’t know myself, so why would my thoughts matter? The fact is, the answer already lies within us. When we take the time to truly listen to our hearts, we know what to do. Inspired Action: Get curious and reflect on the following questions: 1. What makes me smile? 2. What matters most to me in my life? 3. What is one of my proudest moments in life? 4. Who inspires me and why? 5. What is love? 6. What do I love about myself? 7. What is fear? 8. When does fear show up in my life? What are the signs that my body gives when I experience fear? O – Open yourself to courageous experiences Getting a divorce was the hardest decision I have made in my life. It woke me up to my core. Yet, that experience gave me the courage to reconnect with Aileen and eventually quit my executive role with a growing tech company to focus on SPARK full-time. That same year, I also called off my would-have-been second marriage. Every courageous experience filled my cup with love and I began to #chooselove over fear one event at a time. Inspired Action: What have you been holding back on doing, saying, or creating? Set a strong intention right at this moment to #chooselove over fear and commit to an activity that gives you the courage to stand out and be bold. Then share this experience with a loved one immediately after and celebrate. V – Share your voice out loud One of my favourite TEDTalks is from Brené Brown on “The Power of Vulnerability”. Every time I feel fear coming, I watch this video and practice one of the L-O-V-E activities. Sharing my voice out loud is the most challenging for me as I have always wanted to fit in. My disease to please has been a part of me since I was six years old, when a group of kids turned their back on me at a playground. This moment has fuelled me to ensure everyone feels seen, heard, and loved. It has also meant that I must be seen, heard and loved as well. As Brené states in her latest, and now my favourite book, Braving the Wilderness, true belonging means we have the courage to stand alone in our true essence. When you share your voice out loud, you are stating to the world that you matter. And you do matter. Inspired Action: Whether you agree or disagree in any situation or conversation, stay curious and simply share your voice out loud by saying, “I’m curious. Please tell me more.” Those simple words will tell others that you are here to be seen and that you are creating a safe space for you and others to be vulnerable. E – Embrace your whole being This step of loving yourself completely is easier said than done, yet so significant. When you learn more about yourself, when you start opening yourself to courageous experiences, and when you start sharing your voice out loud, the outcome will slowly but surely be one of self-acceptance and compassion. It’s about loving all of your imperfections and embracing your whole being. It’s not going to happen overnight but I guarantee, from personal experience, you will get there. It’s up to you on how fast you want to get to that place of love. The more you practice L-O-V-E, the quicker you will be at choosing love over fear, and the less time you will leave yourself in fear. Inspired Action: Write a list of what you love about yourself. Then share this list with someone you trust and feel safe with. BONUS: Invite your loved one to do the same and create a loving space for you both to openly give and receive love. Courage is built over time and through ongoing and consistent L-O-V-E inspired actions. The time and space you create to build your courage is up to you. It’s also important to surround yourself with other courageous people. Courage and love are contagious. Yes, your heart will beat faster. Yes, you will get anxious and excited. Yes, you will want to jump and hide at the same time. But in Maya Angelou’s words, the reward is great. I #chooselove and I invite you to #chooselove always. What can you do today to stand out and be bold? To experience how to stand out and be bold, come join our interactive workshop at the Women in Tech Regatta held in Vancouver, BC on January 29th to February 2nd, 2018. About Lorie Corcuera Lorie Corcuera is the Co-Founder and CEO at SPARK Creations & Company Inc., a training and development organization that inspires people and companies to create meaningful cultures and workplaces. Over the past 20 years, Lorie has cultivated her people and culture development, community relations, and leadership coaching experience as both a strategic and progressive senior human resources leader in the technology, interactive entertainment, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, professional services, and non-profit space. Lorie is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) with The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and is a business mentor for Futurepreneur Canada, a mentor for Dress for Success Vancouver, a mentor for the HR Tech Group, and Co-Founder of the social enterprise Enspire Foundation. SPARK Creations is also an active partner for BC Tech. To learn more, go to sparkcreationsinc.com. Interested in learning more about equal opportunities in tech? Check out our Women in Tech page.