Derived from the Latin word for heart “cor” the word courage refers to that innermost sanctum of emotion where the individual battles his innermost fears. The courage to overcome these feelings of fear and the courage to take action against the origins of the fears. The courage to face your fear.
Courage is one of the surest signs of a great leader. A man who knowingly enters the realms in which his most forbidding fears exist and again, knowing the risks, engages in battle with his own feelings of fear.
A child is not born with courage but is similarly not born with fear. They are subsequently conditioned to experience these emotions for that is fundamentally what they are, just emotions. , reactions of the heart to the challenges of life and as with fear courage can also be interwoven into the essence of the individual. Humans are the literal expression of the spirit and the course of all ends without question in death. This point is relevant in the formulation of the question that asks of us why or what it is that we fear, and ultimately every human experience when tainted with fear is in actuality the fear of death. The answer therefore in overcoming fear is to come to peace with death, or rather that point of life at which the spirit transcends the human form and becomes formless again on its journey towards self realization.
Accepting death into your heart and viewing life from the perspective of death allows one to live life with a freedom that the possession of fear prohibits. The moment you eliminate the fear of death from the innermost part of you heart, the part where courage begins, is the moment that you start to live life with out fear and with courage. Living life with courage is the oxygenated version of existence as oppose to travelling the road with the backpack of fear strapped to your being and feeling the weight of every step, until the last when you realize there wasn’t any rationale reason to fear but then it is too late.
People might ask how do we become more courageous or where do we go to acquire the skills and nonchalance of those who have no fear. The simple answer is both within you and without. The journey of the spirit provides many opportunities for the individual to test the substance of his courage against the shards of life experience. The friction that ensues as the experience develops is part of the process by which courage is woven into the character of the man taking that journey. As he travels through the turbulence of the challenge he senses a change in his ability to wither the storm and feels a tightening and toughening of the sinews of his essence. He feels braver and experiences less fear. This is one of the avenues through which a human becomes increasingly courageous, and the more frequently he journeys this way the more courage his heart designs. I am always reminded of the lion in the Wizard of Oz who travels with Judy all the way down the yellow brick road looking for a courageous heart, and then disappointingly at the end when the opportunity arises for him to validate his courage he decides to let the opportunity pass by and slips back into a cowardly stance. The point of the musical reference is that in life to become courageous we must seize the opportunities that life presents; for it is not often that they materialize.
Leadership and courage are inextricably interwoven and it is the passion of the brave heart that fuels all else that defines a leader. Without this furnace of drive it impossible for any man to climb the lonely ladder of leadership, not knowing exactly where it might end or what he might encounter on the way. The leader must take great risks to find his way and the taking of these risks cannot occur without the fuel of courage. The biographies of many great leaders are replete with stories of summoning the courage to make a move that is risky and entails the possibility of destruction. As one reads the stories of these men it becomes clear that in nearly all of their journeys they had lost something of great value early on, a consequence of which was the liberation of their spirit, and a confirmation of their ability to overcome any hurdle that life placed in their way. This is the manner in which courage is synthesized and then incorporated into the substance of character. They have become fearless and full of courage.
History is the gift time lays at the door of our life, and it is through the lessons of the men who have gone before us that we are given the opportunity to live our lives with a greater sense of purpose and courage. It teaches us that it is better to try and fail than not try at all, for the biggest regret a man can have is the one he would experience in his last moment when while contemplating his life he wishes that he had faced his fear of heights and jumped off that water bound cliff, or his fear of love and fallen in love with one of the many girls his path had crossed.
A leader has the courage to face all of his fears and will never give up the opportunity to confront each and every one of them