Top 10 Ways to Have Courage

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Courage is an indefinable thing. It’s not as brash as bravery, and anyone can have it. You can be courageous even if you are the most timid and meek of people, or the most softly spoken.

You can have courage by doing nothing, or by speaking your mind. Courage is visible in children, adults, and even, sometimes, in the animals we share the world with. Every great thing we set out to do, whether its raise children, start a business, study for a degree, or change the world, takes courage.

All through history, there have been men or women who have been called courageous, but their deeds have been vastly different. Neither their circumstances nor their goals have been the same, so defining the type of person who is courageous is well nigh impossible. Martin Luther King was seen as courageous, for his unwavering commitment to ending the oppression of his people, but then, so too was Helen Keller, for having the courage to live her life, in spite of being blind and deaf. Business men have been courageous, as have soldiers on the field of battle.

Children too have been courageous, and one such example was Anne Frank, the little Jewish girl whose diary cemented the human experience of the atrocities of World War Two for all of us.

The truth is, we all have the capacity to be courageous within us. In order to bring it out, we need to be put into a situation, whether personal, professional or social, where to act would result in the greater good. If we choose to act in order to achieve that greater good.

It is therefore in our actions, rather than in our nature, that courage resides, and here are our top ten ways to apply this in your own life, in no particular order.

10. Be Guided By Your Conscience

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Some of the most courageous people in the world have become that because their conscience simply would not allow them to ignore what was happening around them.

Mahatma Gandhi for example, endured great personal strife, in order to elevate his people’s position in South Africa, when the reigning regime was subjecting them to acute oppression. He did so without violence however, choosing, instead, to use his famous passive resistance technique, not reacting to anything, but also refusing to back down.

What made this courageous was the fact that had he ignored the plight of his people, he would have lived a comfortable life. He chose not to ignore it, and instead, was tormented for his resistance.

When allowing your conscience to guide you, the key is to see the injustice, whether at work, in your country or town, or your personal life, and do something about it. While ignoring this type of situation, particularly if you are not directly affected, is certainly easier, taking a stand is far more courageous.

9. Feel the Fear, and Act Anyway

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Courage is not the absence of fear. True courage is feeling fear, but doing what needs to be done anyway.

This could be anything in your life. Even approaching your boss at work for a raise, if you feel you deserve it, takes courage. Anything that makes you afraid, or nervous, but still needs to be done, requires courage.

Of course, the trade off is that by having courage, by going to speak to your boss, or doing whatever else it is that scares you, you come that much closer to achieving your goals. Never plucking up the courage to do or say what you want to, will mean that instead of an active participant in your life, you become a bystander, driven and steered by others.

8. Never Give Up

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When you really, truly want something, and it seems unattainable, getting it, whatever it may be, will take both courage, and determination.

In fact, the perseverance to carry on, to keep trying, when all seems lost, and your goal seems impossible to reach, is in itself a form of courage.

Imagine, for example, that you lose your job. You fail to find work, through no fault of your own, and slowly, the life you have built begins to crumble beneath your feet. The easy option would be to give up. Decide that life is conspiring against you, and allow whatever will happen to happen. The courageous choice would be to keep getting up every morning, and going out there to find a job, knowing that eventually, one day, your luck will change.

Even in this simple example, it’s easy to see that courage need not be a deed or word, but merely a state of mind. If you can cultivate a courageous state of mind, and never give up on what you want, eventually, you will reach your goals.

7. Embrace the Unknown

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When you think about why we fear the dark, the answer is simple. Darkness removes sight, leaving everything that lies within it unknown.

It’s this fear of the unknown, rather than the darkness itself, that leads children to imagine monsters under their beds, or in their closets.

Of course, while most of us outgrow the fear of the dark, we remain scared of the unknown in our everyday lives. We stay in jobs we hate because they are secure and stable, rather than pursuing our dreams. We stay in unhappy relationships, because the prospect of being alone in an unfriendly world makes us afraid. In fact, we willingly accept any situation, as long as nothing in our lives is changed, or too different to what we are used to.

It is, however, in the unknown that the greatest discoveries are made, and having the courage to embrace the unknown, and to accept and welcome change, even when it is scary, will almost certainly lead you to a more fulfilling and happy life.

Maybe you can’t quit your job, or leave your marriage, but you can certainly try new things, learn new ideas, and experience more of life. Can’t you?

6. Fake it Until You Make It

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Aristotle, the famous philosopher, once said: “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

What this means is that you don’t have to be courageous to show courage. You do need to act, rather than think, speak or dream though. Even if you are quaking in your boots, if you can pretend to have courage, and do or say something, you will seem courageous.

Of course, once you’ve pretended to be courageous for a while, and discovered that your world does not, in fact, collapse around your ears, you will be able to stop pretending. You will have found courage.

5. Truly Believe

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If you’re not totally committed to something, and you do not believe, one hundred percent, that what you are doing, saying or dreaming, is worth it, you will never find true courage.

There’s a saying that goes: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” This applies to being courageous too. If you are not completely sure that you’re doing the right thing, you will find that somewhere along the line, your courage will fail you. You’ll decide that it’s not worth fighting for anymore, and that will be it.

If, however, the thing that you require courage for is something that you truly want, and believe in, finding the courage to do it will be easy. You won’t have to think about it, or if you do, the answer will come to you quickly. Save your courage for those times. If you fight battles that aren’t really worth it, you’ll use up your energy and courage before you even get to the ones that are.

4. Ignore the Nay Sayers

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No matter what you choose to do in life, whether it’s study towards something, open a business, go into politics, or anything else, there are going to be negative people around you, who will try to convince you that you can’t achieve your goal.

If you really want to get to where you want to be though, you’re going to have to block out their negativity, and just get on with it. By all means, take good advice when it’s given, but always remember that no one but you determines your success or failure in life. You are the architect of your own destiny, and if you allow others to influence you, you will never find out what you really could have achieved.

3. Be Prepared to Fail

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Winston Churchill, famous British statesman, once said:”Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

What he meant is that on the road to success, whether professionally, personally, or in some other goal, most of us will endure at least one failure. The trick is to get up after you fail, dust yourself off, and have another crack at it.

Courage is realizing that each failure merely brings you that one step closer to eventual success. So rather than fearing failures, and allowing that fear to prevent you from even trying, rather look at failures as what they are: learning experiences. Find the lesson, think about it, take it in, regroup, and then try a different tactic.

Using business as an example, if you look at some of the most successful business men in history, their ultimate success was preceded by a string of failures. Instant success is rare, if not completely unheard of, and whatever it is you’re trying to do, you will have small failures on your way to ultimate success, so take them as what they are: steps. Remember: failure is not the end; it’s just another step in the process.

2. Start Small

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Of course, looking for courage, when we’ve never displayed it before, is difficult, if the thing we are trying to achieve is so big that we can’t imagine how we will ever do that.

Finding your own courage doesn’t have to be about a grand gesture at first. You don’t have to do something that will get your name in the history books to have courage. If you’ve never stood up for yourself, start with that. Start standing your ground, asserting yourself. If you want to achieve business success, but you’re scared to leave your job, work on your idea part time. If you see an injustice, even something small, and you are unhappy about it, speak up.

Making a start is what is important, and as your confidence in yourself grows, so will your courage, until, eventually, you’ll be completely sure that you are invincible, and ready to take on whatever the world throws at you.

1. Gather Your Allies

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You can bet your bottom dollar that if you look at the truly courageous through history, there was at least one person that believed in them, and stood by them. A mentor, partner or friend, there’s always someone, standing in the wings, rooting for them.

Finding the people in your life who believe in you is very important if you want to find, and maintain courage. They don’t even need to truly understand your goals, although it helps. What they are there for is to help you get up when you fall, to remind you why you want what you want, and to tell you to keep going when all you want to do is give up.

Having a support structure, no matter what the situation, is often the difference between success and failure. Even one person who believes in you can give you the strength to carry on, when you want to quit.

So look around you, at your friends, family and acquaintances, and identify the people who are going to be your allies. Tell them a little bit about what you are doing, and why. Use them as a sounding board, and ask them to stand by you. You’re not looking for approval. Just support.

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