Published April 23rd, 2013

Where does courage come from?

Is it a built in characteristic that only some have, or is it a learned behavior?

Is it a deliberate decision – or is it pure instinct?

Maybe it isn’t any of these things, or perhaps it is all of these things. Some say that you find courage when you need it most. Others say you learn how to face your fears by training yourself “not to think” – only to act (like a trained soldier.)

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move through it. Miriam-Webster says courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand… fear.”

I believe we are all capable of acting courageously. Perhaps some of us do so more quickly than others – or for different reasons. My observation is that we act courageously when we value something more than we fear: When we believe that something is worth fighting for and we value it beyond our sense of self. When that happens, you will find courage to push through – even to the sacrifice of much – you can stand strong for the thing you value most.

What would you face fear for? Most of us would say that we would fight off the lions for our families or for our faith, but would you step into potential “danger” for the work you do every day? How many times have you talked with someone who is in a job that simply makes them miserable? Yet, they think of it as an act of courage to stick with a job that they have long outgrown, or that they are miserable in “for their family’s sake.” — I have yet to see that work out well, friends.

Miserable situations – sap the life out of people… and the people who love you, don’t want you joy-less, exhausted, and inevitably – a shell of yourself.  Since the majority of us spend most of our time at work, why not find an adventure! You deserve a job that requires courage of you – the kind that gives you energy, and fulfillment. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t consider your responsibilities, or that you should stand up when you are done reading this and give your notice. (Though, that may be the necessary course for some of you!) I am saying that even though you may feel trapped or like you are in a cycle and just don’t see a way out – you can.

You might be tired, and “just” making it weekend to weekend. You might be so exasperated and exhausted that you just can’t imagine finding the strength to take on anything more. When we are stripped bare in this way – we have to stop and muster the courage to say – “This is my forest, and I am not afraid.”

There is an epic scene in the movie, Apocalypto, where the main character “Jaguar Paw” is running for his life. Worn out, beat down, and thoroughly spent – at a defining point in the movie, he stops running and settles himself with great resolve to stop and fight for more than “just” his life – but for the life he wants to live. He finds himself in “his forest” – where all of the things he loves and wants are – and he stands his ground.

Life requires courage: Living requires more.

Be brave.


“I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. And I am not afraid.”


Categorized: Leadership, Self Development

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