Courage, Empowerment and Bravery—Are They the Same?


People have asked me, “Is courage the same as empowerment and bravery?” I don’t think so. Here is how I believe these vitally important concepts are distinctively different.

Courage is an internal process. It occurs when you make a conscious decision to tap into and use your inner “reservoir” of strength, which you might not have even realized you have.

Courage manifests itself when a woman embarks on a journey that is in line with her “heart and spirit.” In fact, heart and spirit is the root of the word courage. Tapping into her courage enables her to stand in her true Self — her solid core. A courageous woman’s leadership style exemplifies her ability to “lead herself.” This is where she displays her understanding of courage consciousness (such as portrayed by Eleanor Roosevelt); acts true to her convictions despite opposition or attractive opportunities that would betray her true nature. In her family life it may reveal itself when she upholds her standards even though her popularity as a parent may suffer.

Empowerment is a feeling, a quiet dignity and belief that every individual has value and a determination to base one’s life actions on that belief. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi demonstrate empowerment, as does contemporary activist Shannon Galpin (Mountain to Mountain) who empowered women in Afghanistan to ride bicycles when it was forbidden. Empowered individuals move societies forward. Empowerment can result when someone else bestows responsibility or faith in us. Empowerment can also be the mental outcome of a valorous (brave) act. One feels empowered.

Bravery is action.  It is sometimes thought of as an impulsive act to protect others at one’s own expense, in the face of an imminent threat or danger. It carries a sense of physical threat and is usually accompanied by adrenaline-activated feats, commonly referred to as “heroism.”

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