When I think of the concept of courage I’m often drawn towards those larger than life, uncommon examples of valor that are held in reverence and awe.
For example, Medal of Honor recipient Sgt John Basilone on Guadalcanal repelling 3,000 Japanese for three days and nights without sleep, rest, or food; or Neil Armstrong taking control away from the computer and manually flying the Lunar Module to a safer landing spot on the moon with only 40 seconds of fuel to spare.
It’s easy to understand courage in this context; these “life and death” type scenarios. But what about courage in the “everyday” that we are required to exhibit?
I think most of us equate courage as fearless acts of valor that are reserved for larger-than-life scenarios. It’s easy to look at these type of fearless acts and wonder if we have what it takes to exhibit courage; and therefore be a leader.
It’s important to note, however, that exhibiting courage does not mean that one acts without fear. In fact fear is actually a requirement of courage. Courage is the act of being scared to death and doing what’s required anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from World War I Ace Eddie Rickenbacker where he said, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”
In this context, every day we are faced with courageous choices and acts. Every time you act upon your gut instincts; every time you listen and follow your heart; every time you choose to do the right thing; you’re exhibiting courage.
It takes everyday acts of courage to deal with your life situations, love, family and work.
Maybe you’re required to step forward, make a fool of yourself, and lead your team in the Birthday Song for one of your employees.
Maybe you need to tell your kid no about going to the “party of the year” where all of her friends will be going.
Maybe you’re the father, who for the first time ever, decides to lead his family in grace over the evening meal.
All of these acts require courage. I realize that they’re not “life-and-death” type scenarios, yet there is still an element of fear involved in each. Regardless of the fear level, it’s just as important that we put aside the fear and do the right thing.
Don’t discount the everyday acts of courage that are required in our lives.
You need courage to hold your family together when they seem to be falling apart.
You need to have courage to not lose heart when met with failure.
You need courage to be a leader.