07/06/2012 12:55 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2012

Couer age: Rocket Fuel to Reach Your Destination

No, there is not a typo in the title of this article. Coeur is the French word for heart that is at the root of the word "courage," and recently it's become a pooling point for my curiosity about how and why people become willing to change.

The French word, courage, resonates in my mind with an exaggerated French pronunciation: COU-RAGE (like the "rog" in Roger). That happens to translate in my twisted multi-lingual brain into HEART-RAGE. You see, it takes a little bit of rage and a heck of a lot of heart to create change in your life, work, home or organization.

As humans, we tend to wait until there is a lot of pain before we wake up to the fact that we must make a change. Whether that be our health, a relationship, a job, a workplace environment or even simple clutter in our homes. Until it is painful enough to get our attention, we tend to ignore what we know we need to do.

For those of us who buck the status quo, it's usually frustration, disappointment, injustice or even anger that moves us. There is also a vision of what's possible -- an ideal we'd like to reach, and a sense of purpose that tells us the pain of change will be worth it. So once again, a little bit of rage and heck of a lot of heart.

How do we gain courage? We could "just do it" and "feel the fear and do it anyway," or we can break it down and really understand what is fueling us and let that add motion towards what we want.

Couer = Heart -- What do you want? What's the gap you want to close? Fill your mind with that image and fill your heart with desire.

It takes passion to fill a heart full enough to be propelled into action. It takes that burning desire to move things, people and mostly importantly, ourselves.

Any person who has watched a loved one suffer with a disease or affliction can attest to the fire that is ignited as we support and seek solutions. Anyone who has ever wanted anything bad enough to "go for it" knows this. However, it's so hard to rev it up enough to make some of the changes we want -- like weight loss, quitting a habit, getting out of a dead-end job, and others that have made us complacent. Why?

Rage (in French)=Rage (in English) -- more or less. Yes, rage is often why we don't change. More accurate, perhaps, would be to say that we don't direct our rage in the right direction.

When upset with outcomes or our circumstances, we often direct our rage outward and blame people or events. If we don't do that, we may direct our rage at ourselves in destructive ways (negative self-talk, procrastination), therefore causing things to stay the same. The delicate balance of heart-rage is that the rage part has to be directed into positive action. Not blame or justification, nor anger at oneself that maims, but rather, just enough anger to get you off your butt and do something about it.

Reverend Michael Beckwith speaks of people who have "pissosity." They are angry folks. That anger, however, turned into positive action makes pissosity a valuable asset.

My brother-in-law is riding his bike cross-country as I write this as a result of being angry that several of the women in his family have had to battle cancer in the last few years. He is raising money for Sunrise Day Camp on Long Island, which sends kids with cancer and their siblings to camp at no cost to the family. He could not sit and watch his family members endure treatment (all are fine now) and not do something. So he got mad, and filled his heart with the desire to help.

Whether you want to help others or just help yourself, there is no better time than now to get up the couer-age. All it takes is a little bit of rage and a whole lot of heart.

I know you have both.

For more by Laura Berman Fortgang, click here.

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