Dimensions of Courage

To recognize courage, it helps to distinguish the various facets of courage. Some of us manifest certain types of courage well but come up short in other areas. Try to detect which elements you exhibit, and which need to be unleashed in your life.

  • Spiritual courage. The spiritual journey requires being in the present. It is a trust in faith that propels you to continue growing. You become a “witness” to your attachments to results and learn to self-correct. You surrender your ego to a higher level of courage consciousness, and you begin to exist in a place “where courage meets grace.” As all this happens, humility steps in to replace arrogance and righteousness. The sacred within awakens.
  • Emotional courage. Like spiritual courage, this involves “knowing thyself.” A path committed to contemplation is required to release your false identity. Thomas Keating in Open Mind, Open Heart defines it this way: “the self-image developed to cope with the emotional trauma of early childhood which seeks happiness in satisfying the instinctual needs of survival/security, affection/esteem, and power/control, and which bases its self-worth on cultural or group identification.” In the Enneagram, it would relate to the instinctual fears around the three subtypes: social, one-on-one and self-preservation.
  • Leadership courage (individual and organization). The courageous culture of an organization honors and uplifts the human spirit (the opposite of authoritarianism or coercion). The collective intent of a courageous organization is to join hearts and minds in order to achieve inspired results. It means the organization (and its people) will “fall on their swords” to honor their collective personal courage. Courageous leadership knows the difference between pride and arrogance versus humility and grace.

Rooted in truth, you know your own heart, speak it appropriately and display dignity wedged with humility. People would label you courageous.

  • Ethical/Moral courage. This courage is activated by the attitude of willingness to choose differently in spite of personal hardship. The objective is a higher level of integrity than required for the easy alternative. Moral courage is like a compass. Over a long period of time, a one-degree navigational error will take you hundreds of miles off course.
  • Physical courage. Facing a physical limitation that challenges the human body, utilizing the body to achieve athletic challenges, facing physical dangers or overcoming at serious health problems—these are the best—understood forms of courage today. Practicing a contemplative life (stopping and “being” present) or being centered in mind, body and spirit are other less-known physical examples of courage.

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