The topic of courage has been explored for perhaps centuries.  It would appear there really is not much more to uncover. We all know what it is, why it is important, and have no problem recognizing it when we see it. Yet, I wonder how many of you have ever been asked this question: “How courageous are you?” How many of you have ever verbally answered that question to an audience? How many of you have asked that question directly to someone else? How many of you know how to answer that question? For a character attribute that is associated with the ability to overcome challenges, daily and difficult ones, it is important to have answers to these questions. 

I offer a simple way to answer the first question. The more authentic you are currently living your life, the more courageous you are. That’s it. I am arguing that the more true we are to ourselves in front of all audiences and circumstances, the more courageous we are. For our true emotions and thoughts to be manifested in our behaviors is courage. The adage “adversity does not create character, it reveals it” is absolutely true and the more courageous we are in our day to day lives, that is living true to who we truly are, no matter who that is, the more likely it will be that when faced with adversity, courage will manifest itself.  From a neuroscience perspective, the EQ spectrum would have Courage and Fear on opposing sides. The more of one, the less of the other. Those who are not living true to their inner identity and selves, and loving who they are and what they do, have dosages of fear and in times of adversity, fear will almost always win as it is a much more powerful emotion over our thoughts and behaviors.  Both are cumulative – they beget themselves. A few sprinkles of courage lead to large abilities of courage. Conversely, living in even small dosages of fear leads to fear taking the front seat when faced with bigger adversity. However, and this is very counter-intuitive, but vulnerability and courage are partners with a positive correlation. The more comfortable we are being vulnerable, the more courageous we are, and vice-versa.
This week – keep it simple. I encourage you to ask someone who knows you very well, how courageous they think you are … on a scale from 1-10. The response number should be totally irrelevant to you. What is very relevant is the follow up question. Ask them to tell you why, perhaps with some specific past examples, why they gave you that number. It will take courage to ask it, and to listen to the answer without being defensive. But remember, this courage (vulnerability) will beget courage that you might need the next day!

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