What is Manly Courage?

Courage is the complete absence of fear, right? It’s daring and doing and acting without regard for personal safety or consequence, right? And most of all; courage is what you’re supposed to have if you’re a real man, right?

Courage is not the absence of fear; the absence of fear is stupidity! Fear is a great gift, (Read Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear,” he proves it!). Fear is a natural part of our defense system and it’s right, appropriate, rational and I dare say, manly to acknowledge it.

From Think Like a Black Belt:

“Courage is action in the face of fear. It’s doing whatever it takes to get the job done, despite fear and doubt. Courage is about managing your fear and not allowing it to stop you; even if what you have to do seems stupid at the time!”

Sometimes you do have to take action that seems stupid; just be sure it isn’t actually stupid! Remember, lots of people think it’s stupid to take care of others ahead of yourself, to put your ego aside in a time of conflict and to delay personal gratification for a greater good and goal. There are plenty of stupid people out there!

There are three types of courage; here are the types with some of my explanations from my book:

1. Heroic courage

“Heroic courage is rare because most of us are not often exposed to the level of threat and danger that makes heroic courage necessary. This is just a small part of the reason to be grateful for law enforcement, fire service personnel, and our soldiers who expose themselves to this type of risk every time they punch the clock. In my experience, I’ve seen people act heroically who never thought themselves capable of such action. It does seem that at times, extraordinary conditions can bring out extraordinary courage.”

2. Moral courage

Moral courage is the courage to do the right thing, even when the right thing is not popular, expedient, or profitable. Moral courage can be guided by one’s religious faith, as an expression of respect, or as an obligation toward one’s fellow man. In contemporary society, moral courage is becoming increasingly rare.”

3. Artistic courage

Artistic courage is the ability to expose one’s creativity to public scrutiny. It means honestly sharing your talents and abilities with the world without any guarantee that your expression will be accepted. Artistic courage is literally letting your light shine from under your bushel.”

Article text - act responsibly in the face of fear

No fear? Each of these expressions of courage requires that you face fear, not ignore it. You might argue that without fear, there is no courage at all; any idiot can do something when he’s not aware of the danger. Courage also requires a full acceptance of personal responsibility for the results of your actions; that’s a characteristic of an authentic man. Action without regard for consequences to yourself or others is not courage; that’s back to stupidity. Just watch an episode of “Jackass” if you need an example. Those idiots are not courageous; they’re not even men –  they’re little boys.

To be a real man is not to eradicate your fears; it’s to act responsibly in the face of fear. It’s to  do your duty even when it’s not comfortable whether that’s serving your country in Iraq or serving your family by working hard to provide for them every day.

“Once you develop a sense of courage, you can face your fears and doubts. You may not always win, but when you choose to fight, you’re prepared to fight to the death…You’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity to test your courage against the daily challenges of life and some of these may be extreme. Sometimes the most intense challenges to your courage can be subtle. The most intense challenge is when your honor is tested.”

Some say that manly courage is dead. I say it’s evident every day. What are your fears and doubts? If you have them, they’re blessings; your fears and doubts provide the opportunity to test your courage. Your ability to identify your fears and doubts prove that you are an intelligent and rational man. Your willingness to face your fears and doubts is what makes you a man.

Jim Bouchard

Jim Bouchard: Speaker, coach & author of Dynamic Components of Personal POWER!. Jim’s next book: Think Like a Black Belt is scheduled for release in January, 2010. Check out his website, http://www.jimbouchard.org/.