There are all types of courage. In my QuickRead! book (available only at my website www.FootInTheDoor.com) Gutsy: Courage Is Your Edge Over Experience and IQ courage is discussed in detail. There is battlefield courage. There is healthcare and first responder courage. There is courage it takes for families to deal with injuries and illnesses.
And there is the everyday courage it takes to deal with the small things that make us uncomfortable to act. This is the type of courage talked about here. Maybe it’s a child who has to confront a bully on the school playground. A politician speaking truth to power. A shy student afraid to speak up in class. A salesperson afraid to ask for the order. A reluctant 30-something to wanting to learn to snowboard but is afraid of being exposed to beginner’s embarrassment. An employee who is held back from advancement because he has poor communication skills and fears joining Toastmasters because he knows he could never speak before a group. Whenever you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I do what I know how to do when I need to do it?”, this is the courage we’re talking about.
When I ask management which of these qualities is most important for their people – experience, intelligence, or courage – they always say courage. They say, “We can teach the people the skills they need. But if the salespeople don’t have the courage to make their cold calls, if management doesn’t have the courage to make tough decisions, if the employees don’t have the courage to change, their knowledge is worthless.”
My mother taught me about courage when I was about five or six years old. I just wouldn’t understand it until later in life. She told me then and reminded me often, “If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it. You’ll find a way to get it.” That’s momspeak for, “Suck it up buttercup and do whatever it takes!”
Courage is not about being brave. It’s not about being fearless. It’s not even about being confident. Courage is about doing something that scares you that you want to do or need to do; especially if it’s something that will make a difference in your life or in the lives of others.
And if you fail? Not a problem. You get the experience. Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture series said, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Author Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.” Courage creates your opportunities. Courage gives you the edge. Courage is what makes your life exciting.