What are some of the virtues that you value the most? After consideration, you’ll probably mention ones like honesty, loyalty, patience, and courage. What does it mean to be courageous?
Remember the classic story of the four friends from the Wizard of Oz. They sought help from a mighty sorcerer in a magical land. The lion had an impressive roar, but he was reduced to tears easily because he lacked courage.
He wanted self-esteem that comes from knowing who you are and being able to face any giants that stand in your way. Thankfully, you don’t need to follow a golden road to ask a mythical being for that power.
Nor do you need a badge to prove your courageous nature. Just like the little girl in the iconic movie, you’ve had the power within you all along.
What comes to mind when you think of being courageous? Do you see a mighty soldier crawling through the foxholes to thwart the enemy? What about Florence Nightingale? She risked her life in the battle, trenches to care for the wounded and dying.
Indeed, these legendary heroes were the epitome of selflessness, strength, and courage. Remember the story of Clara Barton? During the Civil War, she was a nurse who went onto finding the institution known as The Red Cross. This rescue organization has helped millions since its inception in 1881, according to the Red Cross’s website.
How do you define courage? If you’re like most people, you would say that it means to be brave and fearless. However, equating courage with fearlessness is a common misconception. Instead, being courageous means that you take a stand for what you believe despite your fears.
A study published by the Qualitative Health Research Journal mentions that courage is a character trait developed over time with experience. The abstract defines courage as your ability to accept reality, use discernment to solve problems, and “push beyond your struggles.” Therefore, to be brave means you may still be scared, but you press on anyway.
Top Characteristics of Courageous People
1. They Know What They Want
Would you ever consider getting in your car without a planned destination? You would be driving around all day wasting time and fuel and still end up nowhere. The same concept is true for a life without purpose.
First, you must know who you are and where you’re going. Your goals may change many times during the seasons of your life, but at least you have them listed. Then, you apply the courage to accomplish what you’ve planned.
2. They Aren’t Quitters
One of the hallmarks of brave people is their tenacious spirit that refuses to quit, regardless of adversity. If this sounds like you, you know how to reach beyond your fears and the unknown to reach your goals. Courage compels you to ignore the naysayers, and you won’t back down just because the going gets rough.
3. They Don’t Fear Failure
Think of the many things that would never have been accomplished in this world if people were afraid to fail. An article published by the Hedberg Public Library showcases some famous people who didn’t let fear and failure get in the way of their dreams. Among these include Albert Einstein, Fred Astaire, Milton Hershey, Benjamin Franklin, and Marie Curie.
Had these and other icons gave up just because they failed, they wouldn’t have the success they finally achieved. The source shares that classic author Dr. Seuss’ writing was rejected 27 times before he was published. Take inspiration from these successful people and use your failures as steppingstones to your goals.
4. They are Genuine
In a world filled with fakes and “wannabes,” courageous people are sincere and genuine. Anybody can follow the crowd and try to be someone they’re not. However, you may be one of those brave souls who have healthy self-esteem and are comfortable in your skin.
Instead of conforming, you embrace your individuality and your quirks. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, you figure it’s their problem, not yours. Brave people often make their best friends because of their transparency and honesty.
5. They Speak Up
Courageous people realize that taking a stand for their beliefs isn’t always popular. For some people in history, speaking out for what was right was often dangerous. Standing up for justice isn’t an easy task, but it’s what makes positive changes in our world.
Also, you are less likely to be bound in a toxic relationship when you speak for yourself. Not only do brave people voice their rights, but they often become the voice for the vulnerable and others who are hurting.
Even if you were the greatest basketball player in the world, you couldn’t get far without your team. Another characteristic of brave people is that they aren’t afraid to ask for help when it’s needed. It challenges the misconception that only weak people need assistance from others.
You show great courage when you realize that you can’t do something on your own. Asking for help is not only brave, but it connects you to other people. Putting forth a team effort can benefit everyone involved.
7. They Won’t Settle for Second Best
Bravery encourages you to be your best and won’t allow you to settle for anything less. Anybody can take the easy route that doesn’t require effort. However, you can’t expect to get what you want in life if you aren’t willing to face adversity.
Ask people who have found success in business if it happened overnight. Talk to the athletes who have trained a lifetime to excel in their sport. Brave people like these had to tough things out before they achieved their goals.
It requires courage to bypass shortcuts and be patient. Remember how your parents used to tell you that good things come to those who wait?
8. They Don’t Concentrate on Fear
As a brave person, you’re not without fear. A study published by the Chapman University Survey of American Fears found that anxiety is on the rise in the U.S. The range increased from 35 percent to 60 percent in 2016. Additionally, it rose from 55 percent to 77 percent in 2019.
Fear is a primordial emotion that functions as an internal alarm system in case of danger. It’s normal to be afraid when you are facing something new or the unknown. A person with courage isn’t fearless but looks beyond their fears and intimidations to reach their goals.
9. They Can Express Their Feelings
Unfortunately, some people view emotional people as weak and scared. A study published by PLOS One Journal discovered that although men and women may have equal emotions in various situations, women were more apt to express their feelings.
Boys are often socialized with the idea that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness. However, it takes brave men (and women) to express how their hearts are feeling. Stoicism may be useful in an emergency, but it certainly isn’t a virtue.
As a brave person, you have no problem with letting others know how you feel. You are empathetic to their feelings as well. Only when people know each other’s feelings can they work together for goals and problem-solving.
10. They Admit Their Faults
Humans are fallible, and so are their relationships with others. However, it takes healthy people to admit their mistakes and shortcomings. Toxic personalities usually take the easy way out and shift the blame to others.
You are displaying courage when you apologize to others and try to make amends. It means that you are healthy enough within yourself to say that you aren’t perfect, and you can admit when you’ve messed up. Then, you take steps not to repeat these same mistakes.
Another badge of courage is the ability to forgive. While it may seem easier to hold a grudge, it zaps you of your strength. Bitterness is a poison that only destroys you, not your offender.
As you use bravery and grace to extend forgiveness, you may benefit even more than the person who hurt you. It doesn’t excuse the trespasser, but it allows you to acknowledge the transgression and get on with your life. Offering true forgiveness may be one of the bravest things you do in life.
You may not be born with courage, but you can cultivate it with experience and effort. The definition of a coward is not a fearful person; instead, it’s a person who chooses to place fear over action. Show your bravery each day by listing your goals, refusing to quit, and asking for help when you need it.