“Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.” Samuel Johnson
Perhaps of all virtues that a man might possess, Courage, is the most well known and oft talked about. When we think of a man going off to war, we speak of his courage. We give medals for acts of courage and bravery. We write books extolling the tales of the courageous and film movies that hinge on at least one brave act.
In our lexicon, heroes are synonomous with courage. In fact the reason heroes are so rare is because courage is so rare.
Most of us have given up on courage, we have given up on bravery, saying these things are for better men; men at war, men risking life and limb, men of adventure, but not the average man. In our average, normal lives there is no room, nor need, for courage or so we believe; so we’ve been told.
That is a lie.
Courage is not just the realm of the soldier or explorer, but a necessary virtue for all men. It takes courage to wake up in the morning and decide that by the time you lay back down to sleep you will have made the world a better place. It takes courage to overcome the doubts of others and rise above the pack. It takes courage to love your wife and family in a world that tells you it’s all about you. It takes courage to be a man.
Everyday, no matter where you find yourself, it will take courage to achieve your goals. Because courage is not just the virtue of death defying heroics of war, it is that, but so much more. In our worship of bravery, through books and movies, we have actually dulled our senses to the hero of everyday. We see the leading man on tv and think, I could never be like that, I could never be that brave, I could never be the hero. So we settle. We go to work, keep our noses down and try to stay busy, then we come home, maybe spend an hour with the family, eat dinner, then try to relax before bed, and every night before falling asleep, dread that we will have to get up and do it all again. That is not courage, courage is not living a life that leaves you hopeless at the end of the day, courage is what brings hope to your life and what leads a man to reach for new heights for himself and the good of those who count on him.
Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”-C.S. Lewis
In real life it takes courage to be true to oneself and to constantly strive for more. Being more responsible takes courage, living passionately takes courage, living a life of authenticity takes courage; courage is the base and root of taking that first step into a better and truer life. Courage is also the backbone that keeps you from crumbling under pressure, when things get tough, courage is what’s needed to to take the next step and pay the cost.
It will take courage to overcome the wall of doubt that walls you in. Throughout our lives we are surronded by doubters, by the critics that tell us we aren’t good enough, that we’ll never accomplish anything, but we must take heart and be brave. Courage must be used to silence the voices of doubt that assail you. Know that others will always try are bring you down, your own doubts will deny your first step, but you must be brave and take that step. You must develop the hero within.
To develop our courage, we must exercise our courage. Just like excercising your body, courage must be used again and again to strengthen your reserve. We can start with small things, having the courage to work out, even though we are using the lightest weights in the gym, or bringing up a new suggestion at work, despite our fear of looking stupid in front of the boss. Then you can excercise your budding courage, by taking more time to be with your family or being honest about your feelings with some one you care about. Before long, your courage and self-esteem will be strong enough to tackle that promotion at work, strike out with your own business, or ask that woman to dinner.
Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, but always embodies a courageous spirit.
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”- Billy Graham
Once you have embraced the power of courage in your own life and start living a life of bravery, you will be amazed at how many others notice. When you are willing to stand for your beliefs, to stand for the little guy, or just take a risk; it is amazing how other men will be inspired. After all, that is why we love heroes, we see something different in them, something that we long for in ourselves, but it is the job of the hero to show us that we can all possess the same bravery in our lives.
Those around you will see the change in you and want to emulate it, they will see you being the authentic you, and it will instill in them a desire for the same thing. Courage demands a community. While courage inspires, it needs a band of brothers to keep moving forward. It takes courage to make that first step and it take courage to pass it on, but it must be done.
All men can be brave, just where they are, it doesn’t take some extraordinary circumstance to unleash the hero within; all it takes is a man willing to make a stand. Courage and sacrifice are close friends and you should expect to have some sacrifice in your quest for a courageous life. You may not be called upon to die for another human being, but you will have to live for them. True courage is embracing the sacrifice of your self, for others, in the choices you make. This doesn’t mean you don’t strive to be the most successful man you can be, but it does mean you strive to make all those around you a little more successful too.
Start today, pick something that scares you, somethat you dread doing, and decide you are going to be brave and tackle that task. When you wake up tomorrow morning, decide to be courageous. Decide to be the best person you can be, no matter the cost. It’s not easy and it comes with a fair share of sacrifice, but at the end of the day when you lay down to sleep, you will be able to sleep the sleep of heroes.
Get out their and inspire someone, be the hero of your life.