Like the turtle, sometimes we need to stick our necks out to make a little progress. This can be scary. Time and again, our Torah recalls tales of courage, a heroic battle or the risk of standing up to power. In the Megillah, Esther sticks her neck out by speaking out of turn to the king, and Mordechai kept to his principles by refusing to bow to Haman. Moses and the people push past their fears of leaving Egypt into an unknown wilderness. Although their fear made them want to turn back several times, their courage ultimately led them to a better place. Abraham showed great ometz lev by challenging God, arguing,“Will the Judge of all the Earth not do justice!?”
Ometz Lev is the courage that allows us to accomplish goals in face of opposition. Often enough, that opposition comes from within us. The need for Ometz Lev (courage/ bravery) is not limited to outward challenges, but also to challenges from within. For example, neurological studies seem to suggest that in comparison to adult brains, adolescent brains have a tougher time maintaining long term focus. Conversely, the middle-aged brain is slower than the adolescent brain in starting a new task. It might take a bit of ometz lev to deal with pushing past natural inclinations (American Psychological Association).
מחשבה/Machshava (Think about it): Think about something you’ve always wanted to do. Notice what is keeping you from working toward that dream. Is there something you know you should accomplish but you keep finding a reason not to do it? Consider what might change if you you applied a bit of ometz lev.
מעשה/Ma’aseh (Try it): In the movie We Bought a Zoo, the main character says that, “Sometimes all you need are 20 seconds of insane courage.” There might be some truth to this. In meeting an external or internal conflict, try being ‘brave enough’ for 20 seconds. If you notice yourself hesitating to say something that needs to be said or doing something that would be best done right away, just do it. Twenty seconds of pushing past your inner resistance might be enough to get you past the difficult first step.