The importance of Courage

Courage is a very special human quality and some would say it’s becoming increasingly rare. Courage is the trait the Ancient Greeks held to be the foundation of all other virtues. What’s the difference between an average leader and a great leader? Between an average parent and an outstanding one? Between a worker who steps up in all situations and one who hides in the background? The difference is courage.

What makes some people crack under pressure – whether in warfare or business whilst others seem to push themselves past their limits? Courage or the lack thereof. Finally, why is it that some people challenge themselves to the limit – they even attempt the impossible while others never get off the lounge? You should know the answer by now.

Courage is often understood to have two categories: physical and moral. Physical courage is the willingness to face serious risk in life; Climb instead of fleeing from it. Moral courage is the firmness of spirit that faces danger or difficulty without flinching or retreating. In The Civil War General William T. Sherman understood courage in almost mathematical terms. He said, “Courage is awareness of the true measure of danger, and the mental willingness to endure it.” John Wayne put it more simply, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

Courage has been the mark of class acts throughout history, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Confronted with the same choices, some people stand up to accept the challenge, while others shrink away.

What about you? Are you courageous? Of necessity, a discussion of courage must also be a discussion of fear. The Greek philosopher Aristotle made this point more than two thousand years ago. Courage is not the absence of fear, but how you react to it. Faced with a charging lion or a maxed-out charge card, two people may both feel fear. But the courageous individual takes on the challenge, while the other does nothing. Courage still matters — more than we think.

Face the fear and do it anyway…


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