The Latin root of the word Courage is Cor; meaning heart. The seat of our emotions. We find this root in the word for heart in Spanish with Corazon and in French with the word Coeur. In one of its earliest forms Courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling of all of one’s heart”. Today, Courage is often defined as “Showing bravery in times of uncertainty and imminent risk.” The idea of being fearless comes to mind when we think of courage, but Aristotle defined Courage not by the absence of fear but by being able to act accordingly in the presence of fear.
It is said the one way to develop courage is to practice courage. It is the idea of learning to swim by swimming. Every act of courage we practice in our daily lives forces us to flex and increase our courage muscles. Getting out of bed when you feel like you cannot face the day is courage. Trying something new is courage. Speaking your mind freely is courage. Apologizing, creating goals, forgiving and loving yourself all require acts of courage.
Fear is a vital and basic human emotion that will forever be present as we face the challenges and obstacles along the path of life. Taking action in spite of these fears represents courage. The goal is to not let the fear keep us from moving forward; letting our fears cause stagnation. We must recognize our fears and have the patience to listen to them and understand them. It is not about discounting them but rationalizing them and weighing the risks as we move forward. Often the long-term risk of doing nothing in the face of fear is far more detrimental than the short-term discomfort of acting courageously.
Perhaps we all possess far more courage within our hearts than we’re cognizant of. I liken it to The Cowardly Lion in the timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz. He desperately wished for The Wizard to grant him Courage. The Cowardly Lion incorrectly believed his fears made him incapable of being courageous. It turns out, The Brave Lion showed tremendous courage as he traveled the yellow brick road. He only needed to recognize it within himself. There was courage valiantly residing in his heart all along.
Written by: Amanda D. Cullison