5 Habits of Remarkably Courageous People

5 Habits of Remarkably Courageous People
Photo by Sebastián León Prado / Unsplash
"Always do what you're afraid to do.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we make things automatic, there is less room for us to think about it. There is less room for fear to get leverage in our mind. There is no one more miserable than the person who has made cop-outs and cowardice their go-to decision.

One of the most iconic stories of courage is the tale of David and Goliath. David, a young shepherd boy armed with only a slingshot and five stones, faced off against Goliath, a towering Philistine warrior. Despite Goliath's immense size and strength, David's courage and confidence never wavered. With a single stone, he struck Goliath in the forehead, felling the giant and securing victory for his people.

The best thing you can do to cultivate the courage of David is start with the little things. Drift the knob in the shower to cold. Volunteer a few hours of your weekend to serve others. Act silly in public with your kid who had a bad day at school at the expense of your own embarrassment.

We know these things count.

woman wearing white sweater carrying a daughter
Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

As you focus on the small acts of courage, here are 5 more habits you can adopt:

Habit 1: Value the power of patience.

When expectations don't match reality, the first response is to bail.

It takes courage to be patient with results that don't work on our timeline and to stick something out. The people who find success are the ones who find the courage to remain consistent when everyone else has dropped out.

Patience costs us very little in the grand scheme of things. It's simply the discipline to wait for results or to see something in others they might not see entirely. Being a parent has shown this to me regularly: I want my two young boys to be honorable, have virtues, and be kind. But those attributes take time to marinate. Courageous parents are patient parents.

If you want to cultivate more courage, learn first to cultivate more patience. Nobody wants to work for a boss who enters a room like a bull in a china shop. We all want to work for someone who welcomes innovation, forgives mistakes easily, and practices an extraordinary amount of patience.

Where would a greater amount of patience matter in your life?

Habit 2: Confront your fears daily.

Fear is a daily occurrence for those who live a life worth living.

Growth only happens outside of the comfort zone; it's why muscles have to tear and minds have to strain to develop strength. There are two primary responses to fear: a) you can recognize it and face it immediately, or b) you can recognize it and run from it. Either way, you know fear is there, and you have a choice if you are going to grow or stay comfortable.

Your fear is a sign. If courage is never required in your life, you're living a boring life. God didn't design your life to be boring.

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Habit 3: Be willing to say no, even to yourself.

Saying yes is easier, but saying no is better.

Saying no, even when you know you'll later resent or regret having said yes, is much harder. This is one of my greatest weaknesses. At the beginning of the most recent quarter, I was:

  • Publishing a book;
  • Writing a companion workbook;
  • Getting my second Masters degree in social work;
  • Helping lead a growing church;
  • Raising two boys under two;
  • Writing daily content like this;
  • Owning a home (and all the fun projects that come with it);
  • All while balancing the 101 things the average person does.

And amidst all that, I was considering (at the time) coaching a middle school basketball team. There was no true value, besides I enjoyed it.

A "no” is hard but usually necessary.

What is one thing you need to stop doing today to be better tomorrow?

Habit 4: Own your mistakes.

Even the most extraordinarily courageous person can be afraid of the most ordinary thing: responsibility.

You have to carry your own weight in the world; that's all anyone could ever ask of you. But the buck stops with you. "It's not my fault.” “It's not my problem.” These are likely phrases that exist in your vocabulary. Not if you want to be great.

"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs."- Joan Didion

The tax of courage is steep at times, but nobody gets the perks of leadership for free. If you break it, buy it. If you say it, claim it. That's the brave thing to do.


Habit 5: Stay the course, even if alone.

When resistance seeps into every corner of your pursuit, when the chorus of disapproval grows louder, there comes a moment of reckoning. A choice.

How many almost good things were invented, movement almost started, words almost said, but were cut off short? We don't know. However, the number is enormous if we base it on how many you or I have already cut.

Courage looks like consistent and persistence actions, even if you are alone.

  • It's the slave who refuses to be whipped.
  • It's the first women to step into the voting booth.
  • It's the Christians who faced down lions.
  • It's the abused mothers who packed the kids in the car and drove away.
  • it's you when you speak up to your boss, hold on to a ream, or stay when everyone else has left.

Each of us is more powerful than we know. Your circumstances are unlikely to change without a force influencing the change. The force is you. Do you stay the course? Do you stand alone?