Teaching the Attributes of Courage

By Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

One cannot discover new oceans until he [she] has courage to lose sight of the shore. –Unknown



Most people have differing opinions about who has courage and how they got it. Is it learned or innate? Do you maneuver in and out depending on the circumstance at stake or can you keep advancing your level of courage consciousness? Extracting courageous leadership from courageous figures of the past can help define what can be applied in training and how they can be used to achieve results.

“Much of my life I thought you were either courageous or you weren’t. But, courage is being displayed everywhere, and one size courage does not fit all,” states John Jackson, an adjunct associate professor at Central Queensland University in Australia. He highlights a few courage distinctions displayed by famous people:

•  “Mother Theresa had the courage to work for many years with the poor of India in what most people would regard as a hopeless no-win situation.

•  Nelson Mandela had the courage to take on the apartheid system, but not to renounce armed resistance.

•  Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King had the courage to champion and live non-violent resistance.

•  Winston Churchill had the courage to do whatever it took to rid the world of Hitler and Nazism.

Courage is generally associated with being a hero. Jackson continues, “I am no hero. Most of the time my most courageous act at work was to champion peace and harmony. But as Aristotle would remind us, virtue in this instance is finding the balance between being a strong peacemaker and being a strong push-over.

Many people define courage around convictions/values, taking risks, speaking up or overcoming an illness. If you have inklings about how to dial into their courage — great! That’s the first step. The learning curve escalates when you become adept at extracting the courage varieties permeating your environment and then honoring them.

Fluid Courage

•  En-courage feedback — it takes courage to learn from others’ perspectives. Employees who acknowledge the power of honesty.

•  Confront your limitations and seek personal accountability.

•  Be proactive. “True courage is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart” (this sentence was on a flag draped on a building by Ground Zero).

•  Cross-check to review how you’re doing with your own courage context and courage quotient.

A portal to your heart opens when you strive for the best outcome. Why? The heart matures during different stages of courage development. Revelation allows you to be more self-conscious. Consciousness thrives in contemplation. Contemplation centers you in silence. Silence breeds insight. Insights augment learning.

One day’s courage often predicts the next day’s expansion in creativity, inspiration, dedication, deeper engagement to the task, intensity, innovation and the willingness to share insights. Models of individual courage give others permission to grow. No longer immune to its energy, courage deposits allow your heart to exhibit genius.

Courage leadership emerges naturally when human spirits come from their hearts not their heads. These authentic moments reveal the truth about learning and growing!


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