What Does Courage Mean to You?

What does courage mean to you?

Merriam Webster says:
mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Many people translate that to: “Blindly go into danger.”

I don’t buy that blindly part.

Courage is not fearlessness. Courage is what you can consider, in the face of your fear.

If we break apart the definition, here’s what I see:

  • Venture is how we create options to consider.
  • Persevere means we use our grit to keep going.

We need to withstand our fears, especially Fear Experienced as Reality. I suspect that most of us suffer from that kind of FEAR, as opposed to actual fears. I know I do.

So, for me, courage is:

  1. Seeing our reality.
  2. Facing any imagined fears to see how we might manage them.
  3. Create options to see what we might do, especially to quiet those fearful voices.
  4. Start (the venture part).
  5. Persevere.

Easy to say. Not easy at all to do.

That’s the question: What does courage mean to you?

11 thoughts on “What Does Courage Mean to You?”

  1. Marius Frâncu

    … indeed, not easy at all. When I read your post, 4 things pop up in my head which deeply moved me. I will dare to say them. I say dare because this is a deep thing, at least for me, not a fluffy bunny motivational nonsense.

    *Giovanni Falcone(sicilian judge killed by Cosa nostra): He was asked in a interview if he said the following ‘You said, it seems you said, that:The coward dies several times per day, the brave(‘ coraggioso’) just once(‘una volta sola’). This means you do not have fear? ‘ and Giovanni Falcone says’ Well.. important is not to establish if someone has fear or not. Is to know how to live with its own fear and not being let conditioned by it. The courage is this, otherwise it is no longer courage but unconsciousness/recklessness’

    *Paolo Borsellino(sicilian judge killed by Cosa nostra, husband with 3 kids): On the Thursday before his death he received the notification that the bomb has arrived in Palermo. Other 3-4 persons in Italy at that moment had a similar big threat but they left, he stayed. You know what he did? He called urgently his priest for the confession. He wanted to be prepared for the big departure…

    *Nicolae Steinhard(orthodox monk, his ‘Journal of felicity’ book is one of the most precious book gifts Romania has, arrested by romanian communists of that time): The authorities tried to convince him to betray his friends. After the first day he returned at home, they wanted to give him time to reconsider. His father asked him why he returned. His father, in the past, received the Romanian royal order ‘Military Virtue’ and studied with Albert Einstein. His father was tough with him(my translation): ‘What else did you come home to, you bastard/you prick(‘nenorocitule’) ? You gave them the impression that you were hesitant, that the possibility of betraying your friends could fit. In business, when you say let me think, it means that you have accepted. For nothing in the world do not dare to be the witness to the prosecution’. After some days he had to return at the Securitate, before living the home his father says to him:’And make sure you don’t make fun of me. Don’t be a cowardly Jew and don’t shit in your pants.’ (note, his father was a jew)

    *My grandmother: She had 10 years. She was in the orchard with her grandfather, who raised her. We were just occupied by sovietics. A sovietic soldier entered in the orchard. Her grandfather asked him to leave. The soldier wanted to shoot him. My grandmother stood in front of her grandfather. Their luck was that a woman, passing by, speaking Russian calm down the soldier explaining that her grandfather was the only relative still alive for my grandmother.

    So, what does courage mean to me? Well…for me less words. I hope to behave as it should be when needed. Sometimes I have fear that I will not…

    1. Marius, I often see courage in small actions every day. You found four personal anecdotes that embody that kind of courage. Wonderful. Thank you.

      When I read your post, I also realized that we are courageous on a continuum. When we can, we take our fear in our hands and hold it close so it doesn’t blind us. Then, we take that small step to courage. And, when we can’t take our fear? It takes us.

  2. Marius Frâncu

    ” I often see courage in small actions” very well said. Is about actions not words.

    ‘courageous on a continuum.’ you are right, nice said. Because life is a continuum of events, things, emotions..

    ‘we take that small step to courage’ yes, in an instant a thing happens and we must decide what to do. Delicate situations, usually, do not come with orchestra and loudly announced. most often just happen for us and we have to take the small step…

    That’s why, I think, James Coplien says that he, personally, will give a certification to a Scrum Master only when that SM would have lost the job by doing his/her job… And now when writing this, I think this act of his is an invitation to transcend the aparent and even transparent level of Scrum, he raised the bar(is above dailys, metyings, velocity..) . Maybe I am wrong with this interpretation, but wow.

    But this apply also when defending an idea day by day. And when I say this I think to James Bach or Michael Bolton and testing, the one envisioned by Weinberg. Sometime I feel they are alone in all this IT universe but they do not stop and how easy would be for them to fake and do lots of money…

    You have touched a very very sensible subject Johanna and is/was/will be relevant.

  3. Courage for me is to walk to my deepest “Why”s without having a precise idea about the “How”s.

    In previous times in my life, as well as right now, I have goals I feel thrilled even to speak about.

    I don’t have enough information about how to walk to them. Even if I make plans, a lot of change happens on the path, so I adapt to continue.

    I have been led by intuition, by hints, some friends, blog posts like this one, and a lot of stuff to reach my goal, and immediatly, or even some time before, I start drawing the next goal paitings.

    It’s not before I tell the story or retrospect by myself that I realize that waw : I was courageous!!

    1. Loukil, I love that: acknowledge the Whys before you know How. I also realize my courage more in hindsight than I did with planning. Funny, isn’t it?

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