Nelson Mandela stated that “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Courage is about more than just physical strength. It is also about the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty” (Merriam-Webster).
Physical danger may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what you must venture, persevere, and withstand to be viewed as a courageous person. Soldiers who defend our country risk their lives every day. They are daring, bold, and fearless. While people like soldiers exhibit courage when they face and deal with physical danger on a daily basis, you do not have to encounter a situation where your life is in danger to exhibit courage.
Courage also requires mettle, “an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience,” and spirit, “a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one’s own or keep up one’s morale when opposed or threatened” (Merriam-Webster). Courageous people pass challenges that test their mettle and display spirits that are unbroken by failure. These challenges may arise in your daily life: your work, your school, your home. Regardless of where you are, you must be prepared to face these challenges.
Col. Bill Welsh states that courage can be defined into two categories: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage means that you face and deal with pain, danger, or even death rather than withdraw from those things. Moral courage means that you make the choice to do the right thing even when that may be the most difficult thing to do. You must be willing to know what’s right and do what’s right. Rather than physical harm, you may face the shame or scandal the results from following your convictions.
Courage can also be found in people who are dealing with issues and problems like disease or personal loss. When life is hard, it is easy to be timid and let these situations define you. Conquering fear means that you continue to press on and not let these situations get the better of you. You may not know how you will react when you are faced with circumstances that require physical or mental courage. That does not mean that you are not prepared to face these situations when they occur.
When you are faced with these situations in your personal and professional life, remember that being fearful, spineless, and timid does not get you anywhere. Fear can be something that debilitates and paralyzes you and leaves you scared to take the risks that will move you forward in life. To be courageous, you need to be willing to take the risks that will allow you to develop into a person that can triumph and conquer fear.
How courage is viewed in the U.S. and globally