IS IT CONCEIVABLE to make something that’s scary less terrifying? Can we create a mechanism that takes the risk out of taking risks? Are we capable of crafting a formula that transforms making a courageous decision into a seemingly regular one?
I suppose it’s courageous in and of itself to rework the definition into something more palatable—to give courage a new-and-improved, friendlier facelift. Maybe that way, more people will see that courage isn’t just for heroes. With proper training, almost anyone willing can recognize, harness, and actualize courage in their everyday lives—and, subsequently, in their businesses.
Greek philosopher Aristotle considered courage to be the very first virtue because it makes all other virtues possible. To be courageous, there first must be a commitment to willingness. Researcher Brené Brown writes of resilient leaders in her book Rising Strong, “They have the ability and willingness to lean in to discomfort and vulnerability.”
You have to want to be better. And that’s not always a walk in the park. Here are some popular myths to show what courage isn’t: Six Courage Myths. Now let’s take a close look at what courage is.
Knowledge, faith, and action are the matchstick, tinder, and wood that work together to form the fire that is courage. The sum of these parts—and it must include all of them—makes up courage. Courage always starts with knowledge. Obtaining knowledge is the true differentiator between doing something careless and embarking on something boldly calculated. It surely will be easier for you to take a risk if you are educated on the topic you need to be courageous about.
Since you’re never going to be able to gather all the available knowledge on a given topic, at some point you have to rely on that belief system of yours we’ll call faith. And once you build that faith, mixed in with just enough acquired knowledge, then it’s time to do something about it. This is when you take action. You need all three—knowledge, faith, and action—for real courage to be at play. Two out of three in any combination is not courageous. Here’s why:
Gathering knowledge, building faith, and then taking no action is paralysis. We’ve all been in situations where we knew what we needed to do but, for some unknown reason, didn’t pull the trigger. “Courage comes to those who act, not to those who think, wait, and wonder,” motivational maverick Grant Cardone says. “The only way to hone this trait is by taking action.”
Having faith and then taking action without proper knowledge is reckless. We’re back to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Remember, courage always starts with obtaining wisdom. Maya Angelou reminds us to “do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”
Gathering knowledge then taking action without having faith is simply too safe. This is status quo. If you don’t feel a bit of nervousness on the inside, in a world saturated with choice, it’s not enough. Acquiring knowledge, building faith, and taking action is courage.
The more you grow your knowledge and the more you grow your faith, the more courageous an action you should take. It’s almost like having an inside scoop on how a stock is going to perform. When knowledge, faith, and action are in place, and when intuition suggests they work together in harmony, invest!