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There is some evidence that I am courageous. The first piece of
evidence is that my Strengths Profile tells me that Courage is a Realised
Strength (I'm good at it and it energises me). The second piece of evidence is
some 360 feedback I received from friends, colleagues and family a while back.
It appears that most people that know me well, see me as "brave".
But am I really courageous? And are you courageous? And does it
matter? I'd like to know.
To answer that, we probably need to examine a bit further what we
mean by Courage.
What is courage?
Strengths Profile definition of Courage is: "you overcome your fears and
do what you want to do in spite of them". Generally
speaking, people with a Realised Strength in Courage get excited by
participating in activities that make them feel nervous and scared. They
"feel the fear and do it anyway" (thanks Susan Jeffers who wrote the
book which I talk about in a previous blog).
I identify with this definition. Courageous, to me, feels like a
"close my eyes and jump" sensation; it's a bit thrilling. It is the
feeling that I had when I first ditched my arm bands and swam down the centre
of the swimming pool, when I played the lead role in the school musical, when I
did a bungee jump (literally terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure!),
when I decided to retrain as a coach and start my own business.
However, these are all very shiny and thrilling moments. I think
that there's another kind of Courage which is quieter and gentler and, for
this, I turn to Brené Brown's heavily researched definition of Courage. She
points out that courage is a heart word. The root of the word is 'cor', the Latin
word for heart. In one of its earlier forms, the word literally meant 'to speak
one's mind by telling all one's heart'." This, according to Brené, is
Hmm. This sounds a lot harder to me.
Am I courageous?
From a Strengths Profile / Susan Jeffers point of view, then yes,
I can see that in myself. I value it because it helps me to move past barriers
and around obstacles. I always have to make sure that I don't overplay it as
that can look like taking unnecessary risks and thrill seeking!
From a "speaking my mind" perspective, then I'm much
more of a work in progress. And I'm happy with that. I recognise my
shortcomings about expressing my emotions and I've been doing some coaching
work (on the receiving end) this year to improve in this area.
Are you courageous?
Courage sit in your Strengths Profile? Even if your Strengths Profile has
Courage as a de-energiser (Learned Behaviour / Weakness), do not feel
disheartened. This does not mean that you can't do courageous things. It just
means that you don't get energy from doing them. HOWEVER, you can do courageous
things by using a blend of your energising strengths to make them happen.
you speak your mind by telling all your heart? If the answer is no, as I
suspect it is, then you're in good company.
Does it matter?
If an absence of courage is holding you back from achieving your goals,
then you should really think about doing some work on it.
However, I'd also like you to think about how you perceive your
own "courage". In the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the
Cowardly Lion appears outwardly fearful and accompanies Dorothy on her journey
because he wants the Wizard to give him the gift of courage. However, during
the journey, the Cowardly Lion carries out many brave deeds and is by far the most
courageous character (just as the Scarecrow is the smartest and the Tin Man the
We don't always acknowledge courage in ourselves, perhaps because
it's an innate strength or we diminish it, or we don't think others would
perceive it as courageous.
So, a final question to ask yourself: What is
the most courageous thing I have done this month?
This could range from having a difficult conversation with a
friend, making a small step towards creating your ideal career, doing a bungee
jump or swimming without arm bands. It's all relative but I'd like you to
acknowledge your courage. Well done you!
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