"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've always been fascinated by acts of courage. Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. It is the ability to act regardless of the feelings or potential consequences. Courage is following your intuition when the facts are against it. Courage is saying 'I am sorry' when you are at fault, 'I don't know' when you don't, and 'I love you' despite fear of how those feelings will be received.
VIA Institute on Character defines courage as emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal. Four component strengths of courage are bravery, perseverance, integrity, and zest.
- "Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it
- Perseverance [persistence, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks
- Honesty [authenticity, integrity]: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions
- Zest [vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated."
"1. The Courage to Take Responsibility
Whilst you can't always control your circumstances you can always choose how you will respond to them. No matter what challenges you face you have the power to make the ultimate choice about whether to let the world affect you or to go out and affect the world. Resist the impulse to blame your woes on others but instead to make the decision to own your life and own it fully.
2. The Courage to Live with Integrity
Integrity is the only path in life upon which you will never get lost. Placing integrity at the cornerstone of every decision you make requires a willingness to do what is right above what is convenient or politically expedient. At times this means veering off the safe and comfortable path onto a less traveled one where the risk of failure or disapproval may run high. At other times it calls you to forge your own. At its core, integrity is about wholeness and alignment between your deepest values, what you are doing and who you are being in the world. Integrity calls forth greatness.
3. The Courage to Challenge Your 'Stories'
You do not see the world as it is, but as you are. Too often people live in answers to questions they have never asked and claim a monopoly on the truth. The fact is you do not own the truth, just your version of it. Whilst it takes courage to question the assumptions and beliefs you've been living by up until now and opening your mind to alternative perspectives, doing so opens up new possibilities for yourself and your life that you otherwise may never have seen. Ultimately being willing to challenge your stories unleashes you to experience live in a whole new, more exciting and more meaningful way.
4. The Courage to Dream Bigger
You will never be able to have your dream job nor live your dream life unless you first find the courage to dream big enough to identify what it is. Dare to create a vision for your life that is bigger than the one you've had until now in your relationships, your career, and your life in general. Don't let fear keep you from connecting with what it is that inspires you most deeply for the greatest danger is not that your dreams are too lofty and you fail to reach them, but that they are too small and you do!
5. The Courage to Be Who You Are
In a world that pressures for conformity it takes courage to be who you are. So express yourself fully and authentically in every relationship and in every encounter you have with others giving up pretending to be more or less or different from who you truly are. When you fail to be authentic you keep from others that which makes you most attractive; when you conform all that you have to offer others is your conformity. Be genuine, humble and, unpretentious but most of all, just be yourself. There is nothing more valuable or attractive.
6. The Courage to Speak Up
Dare to speak up, to give voice to your concerns, your feelings and thoughts and to engage in conversations that you've been hesitant to have before. Don't choose the certainly of never addressing an issue or fulfilling a need over the possibility that you may have an awkward conversation or a request declined. After all, things that aren't talked out get acted out as unfulfilled needs and unresolved resentments fester. Speaking up in ways that honor the dignity of others provides a means of building trust and deepening the quality of the relationships. It also enables others to know who you are, what you need, what you are care about and what you are capable of more clearly.
7. The Courage to Step Boldly into Action
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Have the guts step boldly from your comfort zone to make the changes and take the chances that call you forward to fulfilling the potential within you. Trade procrastination and excuses for a commitment to being a person who is willing to do what it takes to live the life to which they aspire. Whatever the risks you face in your endeavor, the greatest risk is to take none at all. Fear regret more than failure for life always rewards action.
8. The Courage to Persevere
Overcoming the setbacks and failures that present themselves on the way to your goals is what brings the greatest sense of achievement. Face your challenges with a deep determination to staying the course. Resist succumbing to resignation in the face of adversity for any goal worth pursuing will require its share of determination and perseverance. Connect with that which makes your spirit soar and remember that it matters not that you reach the summit, but that you had the guts to try. It is through perseverance in the face of adversity that the ordinary become extra-ordinary.
9. The Courage to Say No
Sometimes we need to say no to the good in order to make room for the great. However finding the guts to say no first requires first being clear about what you most want to say yes to. Doing so will help you to set boundaries in the midst of being pulled simultaneously in conflicting directions and teach people what you will and will not tolerate. Saying no when you need to may never be easy but the price you pay for not doing so far exceeds any momentary discomfort.
10. The Courage to Open Your Heart Fully
Life's richest fulfillment comes from being as open to experiencing life's pain as deeply as its joy. Opening your heart fully to the depths of emotion that a life well lived calls forward takes great courage but it is the only life worth living. By letting down your defenses and making yourself vulnerable to the anguish that life can sometimes bring, you can experience the joy that comes from connecting with others openly, intimately and compassionately. Drop the barriers that are creating distance and isolating you from others, reveal your humanity and make yourself available for others to know, to love, to care for and to connect with. Nothing is more nurturing to the spirit.
11. The Courage to Let Go
As human beings we like to feel in control. However peace of mind only comes through giving your best to life whilst simultaneously detaching yourself from the outcome of your efforts knowing that everything in life has a purpose. Put your faith in the wisdom that created you, know that who you are is not defined by the outcome of your efforts and trust that you have within you all you need at any moment to take on the challenges life presents to you. Giving up resisting what you cannot control and going with, rather than against, the flow of life makes available to living in the present moment. Finding the courage to let go will not impede you ability to achieve what you seek most from life, it will enhance it.
12. The Courage to Be a Leader
Leadership is not a position; it's a choice. Every day you have opportunities to be a leader for the essence of leadership is inspiring people to move in a direction they may otherwise not have gone, to accomplish more than they may otherwise have sought to accomplish and to grow into someone they may otherwise not have become. By choosing the path of integrity, personal responsibility, and courage you will automatically shine your light so brightly that it will reveal to others the majesty of their own. Ultimately only by living with courage yourself and being the leader you are capable of being will humanity, as a collective, find it's courage and lead the world into a future filled with possibility."