I love history! I love stories about people. I am intrigued by the human experience—the triumph, defeat, victory, loss, difficulty, overcoming. The human experience has it all. And that’s why I enjoy history so much; the human story (if told truthfully) contains all of these elements and more. There are so many lessons to be learned from history that can be (and should be) applied today.
One of the best lessons that I have learned from history is the value of courage.
Without courage, life is rather bland and limited.
I found a great quote (yes, this is where I will introduce my “quote of the blog”) by Winston Churchill about courage. He said,
“We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”
—Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, 30 December 1941
Of course, he made this speech during the second world war, following the surrender of France to the Nazis in the previous year. In true Churchill form, he was “pumping up” the allied forces for the intensification of the war effort. The Allied powers would need courage to continue its fight against the Nazi war machine that seemed almost unbeatable at this stage of the war. Without courage, Britain could be defeated.
Courage is essential to accomplish tasks, great and small.
This rule applies in many different aspects of life: Personal life, relationship, health, education, career and the list goes on. Soldiers need courage in battle. But every one needs courage to get through the day–certainly on the quest for greatness.
Courage is a key ingredient of success.
It takes courage to be independent.
It takes courage to forge new paths.
It takes courage to have a vision and work towards it.
It takes courage to stand up for your rights and for the rights of others.
It takes courage to stand in front of the crowd.
It takes courage to do more than is asked of you.
It takes courage to be more than is expected of you.
It takes courage to be inspired and to act on your inspiration!
History is full of people who had courage. I can make a long list of famous and familiar names. They were daring, visionary, strong, and bold. Were they fearless? Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” The people who make a difference and achieve success and happiness are those that triumph over fear, those that show the courage.
How to be courageous
That’s the real question, isn’t it? Sure, most people will agree that courage is a great quality and that people need courage. But how does a person get courage? How does someone find the courage to do what needs to be done?
There are many different steps towards courage. They range from stopping procrastination and leaving your comfort zone to facing your fear and “just doing it.” There is nothing new here.
What is new—and what underlies all of these steps—is the realization that courage is a choice. Courage is a conscious decision to do something while feeling that fear of doing it. Courage is a decision on large matters like those faced by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Courage is a decision on ordinary matters like asking your boss for a raise or talking to your neighbor about her barking dog. Without courage, life is limited.
Courage is a choice—a conscious, affirmative, empowering step toward something important that might also invoke fear. As Mandela wisely said, the fear remains but it no longer controls. Courage empowers a person to take control and that can affect every aspect of one’s life.
So, Winston Churchill had it right (as usual). The courageous journey is a long, upward journey to be taken by the thick-skinned crusader rather than the sugar-candy coated “scaredy cat”. The meta-inspired life demands courage in all matters great and small.
You decide: do you have courage or are you made of sugar candy?