The Importance of Courage

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston S. Churchill

Courage is a word that comes up often when we talk about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, and when it comes time for us to think about trying something new. We might think to ourselves: “If only I had the courage to… “

Why is it that we have the thought of “if only I had the courage to… ?” Sometimes we are stuck with our own self-limiting beliefs that don’t give us the courage to move out of our comfort zone and try something new. Or we fear that pushing ourselves to do something that takes courage might put us in a worse situation than we are in, many times discarding that there is also a very good chance – 50% – to be exact that if we would take the risk, we would actually end up winning – winning a new perspective and courage to continue pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

Courage in our personal lives

Personally, I have always found it intriguing to push myself and bring up the courage to do new things. Having lived in several different countries, getting adjusted to new cultures and work environments has occasionally pushed me to my limits. But what it has brought me has by far outweighed that: A new perspective and the opportunity to live my life the way I feel is best for me. Going against what they believe is right or wrong, what society or our families believe is right or wrong, is no easy feat. I am then reminded that this is THEIR perspective, not mine and both perspectives are totally acceptable and I don’t have to own their perspective.

I was terrified about what others might think of me: “Is she crazy for doing this? Leaving everything behind yet again.?” But I chose to make these enriching experiences and they certainly were and are.

As I am facing a family loss this week, I am reminded that we only have one life and we make the choice of how we live that one life. Life is fast, uncertain and by no means granted.

So, you might say: “This is all fine and well but how can I actually move past some of my internal barriers?”

Our mind is very powerful and has the ability to keep us safe through our thoughts when we do want to develop the courage to do something differently. The mind refers back to some of our previous experiences, where the outcome was not ideal. In order to protect us from this, it keeps us safe and lets us know that we shouldn’t even try. This happens very subconsciously and until we actually are aware of this function, won’t know that it is happening.

The same concept applies to self-limiting beliefs. Some of these thoughts are: “You are not good enough…”, “You don’t have the qualifications…” etc.

How to develop courage

Here are some steps you can take to consciously make a choice:

  • Think of something that you want to do or achieve
  • What will have changed once you achieve this?
  • What are your personally going to gain from this experience?
  • What Is the ideal outcome?
  • What are the not so ideal outcomes?
  • What does plan B look like?
  • What is one small step you can take towards achieving the goal?

Once you have answered the above questions, you can decide if taking a small step towards your goal is something you want to develop the courage for.

Ultimately courage is something everyone wants – an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect.

When choosing to follow courage, breaking through our fears and the adversity of others, we will also face setbacks. Some things might turn out and some things might not turn out exactly as planned.

When these situations arise, it is important to recognise how far you have come, the attempt to push yourself out of the comfort zone, and for trying. Nothing fuels our own empowerment more than recognizing that we have at least tried, taking stock of what worked and didn’t work.

The dictionary definition of courage is, “the quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without any fear.” I would argue that especially when developing courage, we face our fears. Despite the fears that we might feel, we still decided to proceed. And that means we have already developed a great deal of courage!

Courage in the workplace

Courage is also an important aspect when it comes to our professional lives. Can you recognise these four types of courage in your work life?

Courage to be authentic – sometimes this is no easy feat, especially when expectations from others are piled onto us. Think about how often you think: “Will my boss and co-workers approve of me doing it this way?”

Courage to align your career with your purpose – We think that purpose is a grand thing and often feel this is unachievable, but in all reality, purpose is what we believe our calling in life is. Is it to serve others? Is it to run a small beauty boutique? Or do we feel our purpose is to build houses? It does not matter how big or small your purpose is, it takes courage to follow it. (And as a side note “big and small” – is all related to perception. What might be big and small for me might be opposite to you)

Courage to take risks – Every day in our professional lives we take risks, smaller and bigger risks. In order to be able to do so, we need to display courage. How often do you take risks?

Courage to seek out feedback – Seeking out feedback and asking for an honest opinion of others takes courage. We might hear something that might not necessarily be what we want to hear. To get an honest answer we must have created an environment for others to give honest feedback and it is important for our own personal course correction.

Whatever it is you would like to achieve, you can absolutely do it!

Avatar photo
John de Giorgio

John is the founder of Shireburn Software, a software products company based in Malta and a number of other businesses. Entrepreneurial in nature, he looks at a business process and identifies ways in which process improvement and technology can be married in a practical way to provide value. He is passionate about helping communities and individuals through his work with Rotary International. He is a keen sailor and loves travelling, food and wine.