Understanding Courage

Courage: 1) The quality of a confident character not to be afraid or intimidated easily but without being incautious or inconsiderate. 2) The ability to do things which one finds frightening.

Courage: a person's ability to function despite fear or anxiety. Since fear and anxiety can be caused by internal and external sources, courage cannot be measured by an external situation alone, and social comparisons can be misleading. A person's apparent courage may vary greatly from situation to situation. Even the bravest people have limited endurance for tolerating prolonged exposure to fear or anxiety.
The ASAP Dictionary of Anxiety and Panic Disorders | http://anxiety-panic.com/dictionary/en-dictc.htm

  • Courage is fearlessness — boldness, valiant and heroic.
  • Courage is intrepidity — dauntless, resoluteness, fearlessness.
  • Courage is bravery — demonstrating prowess, valor, being bold.
  • Courage is fortitude — mental and emotional strength in the face of adversity.
  • Courage is gallantry — noble-minded behavior, dashing bravery.

Benefits of Courage

  • Courage provides resolution — determination to keep on going when others give up.
  • Courage provides endurance — standing firm, being in it for the long-haul.
  • Courage provides spirit — an inner power, spunk, nerve.
  • Courage provides gallantry — chivalry and civility, heroism and respect.
  • Courage provides lion-heartedness — an inner confidence that guides us to behave with exceptional bravery and fearlessness.

Acts of Courage in Everyday Life

  • In The Bible — When Abraham left Ur for Canaan; When Jacob went down to Egypt as an old man to learn of God's promise; When Moses' mother Jochebed hid her baby boy from the Egyptians for three months and then placed him in a basket and sent him down the Nile; and when Jesus, who "despised the shame" of the cross and endured "opposition from sinners"... we learn of acts of courage that serve as examples of courage for us to model in our lives today.
  • Voluntary Enlistment into Service — young men and women, aware of the potential harm and danger, volunteer to defend and protect their country's honor and way of life.
  • Terminal Patients — The Last Lecture of Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon — "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." He is an example of Living Life while Facing Death.
  • The Warsaw Ghetto — During the most open form of mass destruction of human life, a few hundred Jewish resistance fighters chose to stand up to the Nazi War Machine and chose to live and die honorably in a dishonest world.
  • United Airlines Flight # 93 Passengers — On September 11, 2001, passengers chose to rush the terrorists who took over the airplane knowing they would be facing certain death.
  • Positive Parenting — Reading books to children about heroes and encouraging discussions about what makes them heroic provides an easy, deep understanding of courage.

Methods for Achieving Courage

  • Practice Improving Faith — Strengthen your relationship with a power greater than yourself — trust the outcome as long as you do what is right and just.
  • Read Biographies — About people who have lived lives that demonstrate courage and similar traits. Learn from them.
  • Have Strong Convictions — When we have a cause that matters very much, we are more apt to behave bravely and courageously to uphold our convictions.
  • Learn to Control Fear — Courage is learning to master fear, not eliminate it.
  • Do the Thing you Fear Repeatedly — It will lose its 'hold' and significance over time.

Golden Mean

Recklessness, Rashness, Heedlessness

Quotes for Courage

Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.
- Dorothy Thompson -
Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.
- Clare Booth Luce -
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
- Maya Angellou -
To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.
- Theodore H. White -
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
- Winston Churchill -

Recommended Reading

Dare To Dream!: 25 Extraordinary Lives — by Sandra McLeod Humphrey

A highly motivational account of the lives and activities of 25 extraordinary historical figures and their significant contributions. Ms. Humphrey writes lively, interesting accounts that will keep you captivated.

50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet — by Dennis Denenberg and Loraine Roscoe

A children's book that is not just for children. Each of 50 American heroes is given two pages filled with information about the person and their extraordinary achievements. The quiz of heroes found in the back of the book is great for the entire family to work together.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Its all right to be cautious - but even a turtle never gets anywhere until he sticks his head out. 14,000 Quips & Quotes for Writers & Speakers