Courage does not equal Courageous

What is Courage?

I realise blogging about courage is an act of courage in itself!

Mostly I think courage is when we do anything where we are the initiator of that action.

Courage can range from accepting fate through illness or injury, to doing something for the very first time – for children that might be tasting a new food (actually that would be the same for some adults I know too!).

Under such a definition the vast majority display courage every day.

So to display courage is not extraordinary, though as leaders we could do a lot better at recognising it and supporting it.

But then there are the courageous. These are the people who display courage on a daily basis – perhaps by the hour – “Big Kahunas” as I have had remarked to me recently :).

Within the ‘courageous’ there is also an important distinction to make. It would be easy to say courageous people are therefore leaders, but this is not always the case.

I know some great sportspeople and athletes, and when involved more heavily myself it was perhaps the more courageous ones I least wanted to be like. They lived in their own world and expected the world to laud over their achievements. For me they were self-centred and ungracious and generally far too egocentric at one level at yet often insecure at another. (As an aside it was interesting reading multi-sport legend Steve Gurney’s recent book – Lucky Legs – and the personal and soul searching journey he endured after ‘retiring’)

Courageous leadership requires you to be focussed, hungry and determined, no doubt about it. However it is always a team ‘sport’.

Without a team of developing leaders under a leader then it is odd to think they could consider themselves a ‘leader’. I wonder who comes to their parties and celebrates their success. I wonder if they even have success. Perhaps they are the only ones to believe their own press?

These are the un-courageous of our organisations. The ones who hide behind systems and procedures, who stall progress, suppress talent, blame others, and generally do all they can to protect the status quo as it concerns them.

May the truly courageous survive them, have the strength of self belief and the camaraderie of communities like this blog to know that right ‘is right’ and sharing your gift, your view, your energy is your calling.

Keep changing your world. This is a (the only?) way for courageous potential to get out and make that difference. Encourage others to be courageous and demonstrate true courageousness in leadership.

Courage is not enough, be exceptional.

6 Replies to “Courage does not equal Courageous”

  1. Dear Richard,

    Good interpretation of 2 related terms and the conclusion that all courageous people are not leaders.However, leaving aside sports and individual achievements think of a business situation where you have group of people working towards a common goal.

    The word courage is the ability of risk taking and successful business leaders have this essential quality as inborn. The leaders forsee the vision and inspire others to follow the dreams with right good planning and execution mechanism. Leaders thus remain courageous to invest heavily to chase the unconquered heghts of success.

    1. Good morning / evening Dr Asher, thank you for that addition, I really love your last sentence.
      If I may make another distinction – that courageousness is inborn with all of us, and those who realise it are our leaders. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom so willingly. Richard

  2. courage – n. the quality of mind that enables one to encounter difficulties and danger with firmness or without fear;bravery.

    “The quality of mind…”, is the bit that stands out for me in the definition of courage. Courage is definitely a quality of mind. I would argue it’s a “state” of mind too…and a very rare one indeed.

  3. Hi Richard.
    There is a little story about courage I have come across; “in a philosophy exam, there was a question ‘What is courage?’, many of the students answered with stories of others containing bravery, heroism and alike. One student wrote ‘This is’ and walked away from the exam.
    I am not sure if the story is real, but, the student put action the meaning of the word and showed that she understood the essence of courage by acting courageously.

    1. Dear Danijel
      thanks for contributing with this story. apologies i have not been in touch – I will see what we can sort out next week.

  4. Dear Richard,
    I also believe that courageous leaders should have selfless and service motive. If they are selfish, then their actions are not courageous. so the difference between courageous and courageous leader is the motive. Courage without action is worthless, so courage has to be accompanied by actions. Effective leaders have great courage to take decisions and risks for people and society. Courage comes from your heart. So, leaders follow their heart and this is the essence of true, effective and courageous leadership.

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