When someone writes about courage I am intrigued. Why am I curious? I always wonder: “What’s going to be their angle?” Every day I receive Google Alerts highlighting articles that use the word courage, women and courage or courageous leadership. Most of the articles address physical courage such a famous athlete overcoming an injury, an innocent child suffering from a grave and rare illness or a legendary CEO going through chemotherapy.
While physical courage is important, there are actually facets to courage. To recognize courage, it helps to distinguish the various facets. Based on my twenty-one years of original courage research, I discovered these varieties: spiritual courage, emotional courage, leadership courage, ethical/moral courage, physical courage, political courage and personal courage. Some of us manifest certain types of courage well but come up short in other areas.
This article focuses on your personal courage—the part the media rarely covers. Personal courage manifests itself when a person embarks on a journey that is in line with their “heart and spirit.” In fact, heart and spirit is the root of the word courage.
With this definition in mind, the most critical issue for personal courage to thrive requires that you embrace this forgotten virtue. While this action is simple, its rarely done!
Ask yourself: “Am I willing to give myself permission to claim my everyday courage?” Examples of everyday courage that allow you to brand your courage style include confronting gossip, transcending a merger, asking for the overdue raise or changing careers to the one that makes your heart sing. These examples are the opposite of the media’s headlines that focus on the sensational, amazing, tragic, scandalous or glamorizing the superficial.
An example of everyday courage is noted when you recognize a courage obstacle called self-doubt (one of twelve obstacles to courage). The way to access your courage is to pause and reflect. Perhaps you notice that you lost an opportunity to speak up. Then ask: “Did I just swallow my voice (again)?” Reflection offers an opportunity to self-correct where you might be stuck. Staying stuck in your scripts keeps you doing the same thing over and over. If you function at a higher integral level of courage consciousness you might ask yourself this question: “Why don’t I choose to display my individual courage and highlight my talents?”
I am also intrigued when articles in papers or magazines use this phrase: “Look at where you’re stuck.” This is a great vantage point requiring that we take time to once again stop and reflect, to let go of our attachments to our gadgets, and the self-identification to our “busyness.” Most of us will remain in our StuckThinking™ patterns and demand with frustration: “Give me the damn pill!”
When a host of difficulties comes your way a courageous person refuses in spite of all the obstacles such as uncertainty or denial (two more courage obstacles) to give up. Many organizations are stuck in status quo which is why courage is caged in the workplace and the definition misunderstood.
I interviewed a female Captain Firefighter and she told me her actions on the job have nothing to do with courage or being a hero—it’s what she was trained to do, and she’s just doing her job. She said, “When a person calls 911 it’s a day from hell for them. For me, it’s just another day doing the job I was trained to do. I am not being courageous, brave or a hero although people want to attach those words.” It’s important to note that courage and bravery are not synonymous terms. Bravery carries a sense of physical threat and is usually accompanied by adrenaline-activated feats, commonly referred to as “heroism.”
A symbiotic relationship merges when you combine your personal courage and your courageous intention. This combo confirms that you witness courage at its best—a contagious antidote! What keeps this from happening? Our culture perpetuates dualities when courage and fear are pitched against each other. A courage-centered heart does not perpetuate fear unless perhaps you’re alone at night in a subterranean parking lot and you sense someone is following you.
As a courage coach, I ask, “How will you choose to design your courage so your work offers self-fulfillment?” If you have to work, make it your Truth. In truth, you will find your passion. With unceasing zeal, declare a “Declaration of Courageous Intention” (DCI) and use this tool as a compass on your life’s journey. Concentrate on intentionally blending courage consciousness with spiritual awareness known as Spiritual Intelligence (SQ*) by joyfully designing a reservoir of courage that becomes contagious in all areas of your life. What matters most is that you take the step now to declare your intent.
May the energy of courage reveal your essence and elevate possibilities for you and all you touch as you discover how you can take your courage to work!
* Spiritual Intelligence (SQ): SQ is secular spirituality; is an innate capability that we can learn to use based on experience not beliefs. Physicist Danah Zohar’s research defines courage as one of the levels of Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) or wisdom. She writes in SQ, Spiritual Intelligence, the Ultimate Intelligence, “To have high SQ is to be able to use the spiritual to bring greater context and meaning to living a richer and more meaningful life, to achieve a sense of personal wholeness, purpose and direction.”
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