Courage Defined: Acting despite perceived or actual risk.
Some people run towards danger. Some people speak up. Some people step forward. These are the people we all admire. They get honored with medals, they are revered by their peers, and we hold them up as examples to our children. They ignore the fear of failure, the fear of losing control, the fear of losing friends or jobs and they do the right thing. They do the things that Leaders of Character do.
How did they become that person? What is the number one thing that decides we are going to become a Leader of Character? The answer is Courage.
There is no character without Courage. Studying about character is not having character. Thinking about character is not having character. Talking about character is not having character. It takes action to have character and action requires Courage.
The Six Habits of Character(Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty, and Positivity) are all important. But Courage is the habit that makes all the others possible. Without Courage, all the talk about Integrity, or any other aspect of our character, is just an academic discussion. They are nice and quaint, but they don’t mean a thing unless you have the Courage to put them into action.
We are not born with Courage or any of the other habits of character. We develop them through practice. We practice them until they become habits. The more we choose to exercise Courage, the easier Courage becomes.
Here of some examples of how Courage is the fulcrum that leverages the other habits of Character:
Humility: Without the Courage to admit we are wrong and to accept the consequences of our mistakes, our fear of failure will rule us. We will argue, make excuses and drive people away. Each time we have the Courage to humble ourselves and accept the discomfort that follows, we exercise the habit of Humility.
Integrity: We cannot have Integrity without Courage. We must have the Courage to choose Integrity even when that choice could cost us something – like money, or a job, or a friend. If we only choose Integrity when Integrity is easy, that is not Integrity. Courage makes Integrity possible.
Selflessness: To behave unselfishly means we put someone else’s needs before our own. That usually means we have to give something up. Many times that sacrifice requires us to overcome a fear and do something that makes us uncomfortable. It takes Courage to sacrifice for the good of others – especially when you are not sure about how it will turn out.
Duty: There are moral obligations all of us have in life. We may be an introvert who is uncomfortable with conflict. But if we are in leadership, it is our moral obligation to have difficult conversations with people. It is our Duty to confront a high performing employee who is cutting corners on their administrative work. That requires Courage for anyone, but especially for introverts.
Positivity: In the midst of a bad situation, when everyone else is complaining, somebody needs to have the Courage to get the group focused on the right things. Exercising Positivity when everyone else is negative is when a Leader of Character leverages Courage to change the morale of the team.
What we do on a consistent basis – our habits – determine our character. Our choices form our habits. Most of the time, changing our habits by making a new choice is uncomfortable. When we feel that discomfort – that is our signal that our Courage is about to be tested.
Each time our Courage wins out over fear or discomfort, we have taken another step closer to becoming the Leader of Character we are all called to be. Without Courage, we will never take the action to build the Habits of Character that will shape our lives and builds us into the type of leader we would want to follow.
Dig Deep Questions:
● Based on how often you exercise Courage, would you follow you?
● What is an example of when being uncomfortable kept you from taking action?
Exercising Courage takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Courage daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.
To make it easy to keep the definition of Courage visible on your screens and devices, we would like to share our FREE Courage backgrounds for desktop and mobile available for download at: https://www.becomingaleaderofcharacter.com/tools-resources