Uncovering Courage In the Face of Fear
We all know people of courage. Every day the news is filled with stories about returning soldiers who still wear the uniform and display a particular kind of grit and ability to rise above after returning from war and atrocities they aren’t able to “un-see”. That’s courage. The bystander who runs into a burning building to rescue another person is hailed as courageous. Those on the front lines of activism, who step out as the voice for societies “less than” and bring a name to the needs of others must believe in a cause bigger than themselves display courage.
But what about the regular folks like us? How can we take monumentally brave actions? How can we train ourselves to perform small, daily acts of courage?
Courage Can Be a Challenge
Being courageous isn’t difficult when you’re in a good place emotionally. Sure, you’ll jump out of an airplane with your friends. You might be numb with fear, but hey-the stories you’ll share once you all parachute to solid ground will be worth it.
But when life is going far off course and nowhere near what you had hoped, when you’re exhausted, in emotional pain, grieving, scared, and angrier than you’ve ever been, how do you move forward then? Sucking it up and finding the courage you need to move forward simply isn’t nearly as easy, is it?
So how, and where, do you find the courage to act, to move forward when life has forced you into the fetal position? When things aren’t going your way, is it possible to choose to be courageous? In order to make that choice and push past the pain, it helps to define courage just a little more.
But Just What is Courage?
Courage is the difference between those who act in spite of their fear and those who stay stuck in that fear. For instance, you may fear snakes; however, there’s a beautiful waterfall on the trail you’re hiking, just beyond what appears to be a great place for snakes to hide. As you imagine the copperheads, rattlers, and vipers whose venom filled fangs await your tender flesh, you have a choice.
You can act, by stomping your feet and creating a ruckus that will scare these imaginary foes into slithering away, or you can step to the side while your friends go to view this grand waterfall. Courage can help you to utilize your fears by recognizing them and using them as the catalyst that drives you into action.
Courage is unique to the individual. Not everyone will be called upon in the same way to be courageous, and your fears are not the same as your neighbors. Courage is relative, yes, but no one person’s courageousness is better than another’s.
Courage has many faces. For the single mother trying to raise children on her own without assistance or financial support, it takes courage to move forward. For those caring for the physically impaired or terminally ill, each day can be a series of challenges, offering many moments to be courageous. To realize your dream of starting your own business, leaving the safety of your current job situation and embarking on something unknown, you must have courage. Falling in love and making a lifelong commitment requires you to get past your fears. That’s courage.
7 Types of Courage
There are seven distinct kinds of courage that we all possess to some degree. You may identify with these kinds of courage yourself, or you might recognize them as traits in someone you know. You may also be surprised when you realize you practice some form of these types of courage every day. You are courageous my friend!
● Creative: Creative courage is exemplified by those individuals who give life to an idea. Writers, painters, comedians, entrepreneurs, teachers and many other people demonstrate their courage by putting their thoughts and ideas out there in spite of naysayers and critics.
● Physical: Physically disciplined people must have the courage necessary to push themselves on a regular basis. Athletes are not the only ones who possess physical courage. Think about those who have physical disabilities or injuries which require day after day of therapy. Or the not-so-in-shape middle-aged couch potato who decides to get past the pain and begin a training regimen by running to get in shape.
● Intuitive: The person who recognizes the needs of others and reaches out to his or her community to provide, or address injustice is intuitively courageous.
● Emotional: It takes an infinite amount of courage for some people to open themselves up, to forgive and ask for forgiveness, to seek emotional help and guidance from others.
● Intellectual: Intellectual courage is needed in instances where discernment is required. Are you making the right decision? Are you confronting your issue? Telling the truth, even though it may reflect poorly on you? That takes intellectual courage.
● Social: These days social courage is something we often must call upon. Are you able to step out with respect and kindness? Can you openly express your beliefs and opinions even at the risk of being unpopular? That makes you socially courageous.
● Moral: Moral courage calls upon integrity. Are you able to rise above the crowd and do the right thing? Are your principles exemplified through your word and deed? Do you speak up for those who need a voice? Your moral courage is guiding you.
Putting Courage Into Action
We all need to call upon courage sometime in our lives. When you recognize fear, do you do your best to understand it and move forward? That’s courage in action. What acts of courage inspire you most?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tim Crowley, Ph.D.
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Leadership, and Resilience Expert
Dr. Tim Crowley is a well-known speaker with a passion for growing agile leaders, teams, and organizations that produce extraordinary results. For more than 25 years his services have touched the lives of leaders in some of the most recognizable companies in the world. Including AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ernst & Young, Hallmark, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Marriot, Microsoft, Nestle-Purina, along with numerous organizations, universities, state and federal agencies.
When not speaking, leading workshops, and blogging he looks for inspiration through mountain biking, volunteering, and spending time with his family and friends. Invite Tim to speak at your next event. You can learn more about Tim and how his services can help you and your team at drtimcrowley.com. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.