"Our word 'courage' comes from the French word coeur, 'heart'. Courage is a willingness to act from the heart, to let your heart lead the way, not knowing what will be required of you next, and if you can do it."     Jean Shinoda Bolen

Researcher Brene Brown is famous now for her work on vulnerability. But her work began as research on courage. She had thought that courageous people must have had great advantages over the rest of us—better genes, better parenting, a more secure or easy life. But she found that wasn’t true at all, that in fact courageous people are just like everyone else. She reviewed the data on 11,000 people and couldn’t find one single instance in which people were courageous because they were advantaged and at ease. She could only find ordinary people who were courageous because they had acknowledged and accepted the precariousness or danger of a situation, and their vulnerability in it.

Brown also found that non-courageous people spend a lot of time trying to be perfect as a way to protect themselves, and that they’re also judgmental and rigid in their certainty and thinking. Non-courageous people do what they think others expect of them, then take their exhaustion and productivity as proof of their worth; they measure themselves by what other people think.

She had an insight when she recognized herself on that list of non-courageous people. And that was the day, she said, that she put aside her research and called a therapist. She wanted a more authentic, more whole life—imperfection, uncertainty, vulnerability and all. 
She did this because in her research she’d discovered that courageous people simply show up for life without a lot of guarantees. They’re willing to face uncertainty and imperfections in themselves and the world and keep moving forward. And they’re rewarded with a deeply authentic life.


"The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that, you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do."  - Eleanor Roosevelt

"Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Take on life’s tasks with the resolve of a soldier storming the breach. So what if you are lame and cannot scale a wall alone. Does your lameness prevent you from finding someone to help you?"  -Marcus Aurelius

"What paralyzes life is the failure to believe and the failure to dare."  - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

"Failure is impossible" - Susan B. Anthony (born on February 15)

"Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Radmacher

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill

"The great courage is to stare as squarely at the light as at death." - Albert Camus

"The first and greatest commandment is, Don't let them scare you." - Elmer Davis

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope . . . and, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." - Robert F. Kennedy

"Our word 'courage' comes from the French word coeur, 'heart'. Courage is a willingness to act from the heart, to let your heart lead the way, not knowing what will be required of you next, and if you can do it."- Jean Shinoda Bolen

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." -Anais Nin

"It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars." - Garrison Keillor

"A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are for." - John A. Shedd

For Reflection…

  • Who is the most courageous person you know? Do you only admire them, or have you let their example change you?
  • When have you had the courage to admit that you were wrong? What did you do when you realized this? Did you grow from the experience?
  • Have you ever had the courage to step out into the unknown? Are you living your life in a brave way, whether boldly or quietly? Do you take brave risks?
  • Do you have the courage to ask for help? What does it take for you to admit your vulnerability?