Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles. It instills a person with an inner force to make scary choices and defy seemingly impossible odds. In a world that often craves comfort and conformity, it’s the courageous people who stand out and make a lasting impact. The good news is that courage lies within us all. By examining the behavior of courageous individuals, we can begin to cultivate these qualities within ourselves. Learn five things that courageous people do differently. (Estimated reading time: 10 minutes)
In a world that often craves comfort and conformity, it’s the courageous people who stand out and make a lasting impact. These extraordinary individuals possess a unique set of traits that push them beyond the boundaries of the ordinary.
But today, many people mistakenly associate courage with the appearance of it, even if there is little to no substance to them. It’s the loudest person in the room, full of bravado, who spits out inane declarations, giving the impression that they are a benefactor to those around them, when in reality, all they want is attention.
This distinction between real and fake courage landed firmly for me after I watched the Disney animated movie ‘Hercules,’ a tale about a young god who journeys from zero to hero. As a child, Hercules was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld, and had to live in the mortal world as a human with super strength.
However, it wasn’t long before he fell out of place and realized he did not belong in that world. He wanted to return to Olympus with his family and other gods. He contacted his father, Zeus, who said he could rejoin them, but only after he proved himself to be a true hero on Earth.
After accomplishing commendable feats like saving Thebes from monsters, Hercules gradually climbed the ladder of success and fame; he returned to Zeus, asking for the restoration of his godhood.
“You’ve done wonderfully. You really have, my boy.” Zeus replied to his request. “You’re just not there yet. You haven’t proven yourself a true hero.”
Hercules eventually became a true hero once he learned empathy and made sacrifices for those he loved. He realized that the intention behind acts of courage matters more than the actual act and outcome. It’s the person behind the heroic act — how hard they love and how far they will go to defend the people and causes they care about — that was the most important.
“A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart,” were Zeus’ wise words for his son. It’s about the heart, not the applause, fame, or any physical marker. The root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for ‘heart.’ Courage is a heart-centered word.
Whether it’s speaking up for what you believe in or taking risks in the pursuit of your dreams, you can display a fearlessness that is both heroic and awe-inspiring if you live from your heart.
What does it mean to be courageous?
To understand the true meaning of courage, it’s best to look at those who embodied this quality in its whole essence. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was one such person. He captured the fundamental ethos of courage when he said:
“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.”
The presence of courage instills a person with an inner force to make scary choices and to defy seemingly impossible odds if that seems worth fighting for. Deep down, they have an inner knowledge that they can manifest their vision. As author Wayne Dyer put it, “They can believe it before they see it.”
Courage seldom occurs in the absence of fear. Even if courageous people experience dread and their minds give them many reasons why something might be a bad idea, they charge ahead to slay the dragon of fear. It’s not that they are brash or naively hurling themselves in the face of danger; they know full well that things are risky but do it anyway.
Courage is often misunderstood as being brave and strong. However, there are some subtle differences. Bravery is not a quality but a state of mind. It does not need a cause to awaken it. Courage is also not a state of quality, but a choice. A person chooses to engage in a courageous act, even if they feel fearful.
Being brave feels effortless to the individual with this quality because it’s their modus operandi. It’s like jumping from a plane with a parachute strapped to your back and then hurtling to earth at terminal velocity. It’s running into a burning house to rescue a pet without a second thought.
Courage is driven by a cause. Someone who is fueled by courage must believe that a cause is worth fighting for. Even if it requires sacrifice and great effort, the result makes everything worthwhile. It’s the soldier running into the battlefield fighting for their country’s freedom or the mother who will jump into a turbulent ocean to rescue her child from drowning.
Courage is not just reserved for the spectacular. It’s woven into the fabric of everyday existence. When we choose to speak up for ourselves when someone tries to dim our light or decide to leave our 9-5 to pursue our entrepreneurial dreams, we demonstrate courage.
Why we need courage
Poet Maya Angelou once said that courage is the most important of all the virtues because “without it, you can’t practice other virtues consistently.” The steadiness that courage instills allows us to step outside our comfort zones and pursue our dreams. With courage, anything is possible.
Here are some other reasons why we need courage:
1. Courage encourages action.
We might have the most well-thought-out plans, ideas, and strategies, but they will only see the light of day once we act on them. Courage motivates and drives us to take the necessary steps, even if we’re afraid or uncertain. We’ll find it easier to push past our worries and move forward with surety and confidence.
2. Courage enables us to overcome obstacles.
The path to success and happiness is rarely straight. While on the journey, we’ll inevitably deal with setbacks, obstacles, and challenges. Like an inner coach, courage will help us overcome them. When courageous, we have the resilience and strength to keep moving forward even when things get tough. With our eyes on the prize, we persevere through the hard times because we have faith that we can overcome.
3. Our courage can inspire others.
Courage is contagious. When the people around us see us taking leaps of faith and pursuing our visions, they’re more likely to do the same. Even one courageous person creates a ripple effect that can lead to favorable shifts and transformations in ourselves, our communities, and the world.
Common traits of courageous people
Courageous people possess a distinct set of traits that enable them to take bold actions and overcome obstacles. Self-belief is one such trait that allows them to trust in their abilities and navigate through uncertainty. By believing in themselves, they gain the confidence to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.
Additionally, authenticity plays a vital role in their journeys. They embrace their true selves, refusing to conform to societal expectations and norms. This authenticity inspires others and allows them to live a life that aligns with their values and passions.
Here are five other traits that distinguish courageous people from others:
1. Maintaining a growth mindset.
Courage acts as a catalyst for personal growth, propelling individuals toward their full potential. They challenge themselves to learn and grow by stepping outside their comfort zones. Taking risks is a crucial aspect of this growth. Courageous individuals understand that failure is not a setback but a stepping stone towards success. They view failure as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and become stronger. This mindset enables them to embrace change and seize new opportunities with enthusiasm.
2. The ability to overcome fear and take risks.
Fear is a natural human emotion, but courageous people do not allow it to hold them back. They acknowledge their fears and use them as motivation to push forward. They build resilience and develop a sense of fearlessness by facing their fears head-on. Taking risks becomes second nature, as they understand that great accomplishments often require stepping into the unknown. Their ability to embrace discomfort and uncertainty sets them apart from those who remain trapped in their comfort zones.
3. Being resilient and persevering when faced with challenges.
Resilience is a trait commonly found in courageous individuals. When faced with adversity, they bounce back stronger than ever. They see setbacks as temporary hurdles, not insurmountable obstacles. This resilience allows them to persevere through challenges, maintaining their focus and determination. They understand that success is not always immediate and setbacks are a natural part of any journey. By cultivating resilience, they develop the mental fortitude to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
4. Belief in their abilities and resourcefulness.
Adversity often tests courage, and courageous people rise to the occasion. They have an unwavering belief in their abilities and refuse to be defeated by life’s challenges. Instead of succumbing to despair, they choose to face adversity head-on. They find strength in their vulnerability and use it as a driving force to push through difficult times. Their ability to maintain a positive mindset and seek solutions in the face of adversity sets them apart.
Five things courageous people do differently than others
Courage is not limited to a select few; it resides within each and every one of us. By examining the behavior of courageous individuals, we can begin to cultivate these qualities within ourselves. Here are five things that courageous people do differently:
1. They are willing to be vulnerable and express their feelings.
Some people consider emotional people as weak. That’s why we see everyone trying to seem strong and putting on a brave front, even if they crumble inside. It takes a courageous person to express what’s in their heart and ask for help if they need it.
When we’re vulnerable, we naturally connect with people because they appreciate our honesty and authenticity. Researcher Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” Remember that it’s okay to shed a tear and tell someone how you feel if you can trust them.
2. They own the things that happen to them and admit their faults.
Courageous people take ownership of the role that they play in the outcomes they create. They know they are responsible for the circumstances that occur in their lives. With this mindset of accountability, they forgo blaming others and playing the victim. Instead, they take action to create the life they desire and make adjustments based on the feedback they receive. If they make an error, they admit fault and rectify it.
3. They are unafraid to do the right thing even if it isn’t easy and/or popular.
Doing the “right” thing requires courage because it may require us to go against convention, other people’s opinions, and even face the risk of loss.
Think about Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, resulting in her arrest for her defiance.
In everyday life, being unafraid to do the right thing can be reflected in a person’s decision to study a subject they are passionate about but that their parents don’t fully support.
Regardless of the scale of the decision, all of them bring up critical thoughts, such as “What if I fail?” or “Do I have what it takes?” It takes courage to take risks and move forward anyway.
4. They are willing to forgo quick fixes and put in the effort to get what they really want.
In a world where most people are tempted to take the easy road and go for quick fixes, courageous people choose otherwise. They know that to achieve something outstanding that would make them feel proud, they must put in the work and be willing to face adversity.
Courage makes us shoot for the stars and be unwilling to settle for anything less than what we’re capable of doing and what we believe we deserve.
5. They are driven by a sense of purpose that involves improving the lives of others.
Courageous people know that it’s not all about them. While it may seem that they are focused on a pursuit that’s going to solely benefit them, those who are genuine consider the bigger picture and how their decisions and actions will impact others. Instead of being the center of attention, there’s an emphasis on making a difference in someone else’s life because they know that the ultimate joy comes from giving, not personal success.
Courage is a flame that ignites your inner strength. This powerful force will guide you through the unknown, inspiring you to take on new challenges and face the obstacles along with that. All you need to do is charge forward with faith and a steadfast heart.
All my best on your journey,
Questions for you: What does courage look and feel like to you, and how can you embody that? Are there any courageous people in your life who inspire you?
Did you like this post? Sign up below, and I’ll send you more awesome posts like this every week.
'The Fast Track Guide to Turning Your Dreams into Reality'