[December 26, 2021] I’m often asked what is more difficult … to stand for what I believe in and do the right thing (moral courage) or to stand against a deadly enemy on the battlefield and fight (physical courage). I have found moral courage to be far more difficult. Leadership is often tested and, I believe we all must be morally courageous.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon, Novelist
Whether moral or physical courage, there are pieces to the puzzle of what it means to act courageously. Indeed, many examples of courage are all around us. Sergeant Alvin York of World War I fame or the current historian Dr. Victor Davis Hanson are two well-known courageous men. Each in his way showed courage.
When I’m asked what courage is, I think I have the answer. Here are some of the more critical principles of courage:
- Confidence to make decisions and do the right thing.
- Know yourself and others and act correctly on that.
- Block out the naysayers and the negative voices.
- Understand risk and use that knowledge to improve the right actions.
- See what is possible in the future and the results of decisions.
- Stand up and be counted for your actions and what you believe in.
- Speak up so that everyone knows your position.
- Never give up.
- Stand against great odds and a high risk of failure.
In a modern society at peace, it isn’t easy to find ourselves in a position where physical courage is needed. But those times do exist, and it is our duty as good persons to be prepared to act in unpredictable, dangerous circumstances. We may be afraid in our minds but never afraid to act where our life or the lives of others could be lost.
Likewise, we may be afraid of a decision that could end our job or get us into trouble, but we cannot be afraid to make the morally correct decision. This means that we must have a well-grounded moral belief in the goodness of people, and when the time comes, we must act for the betterment of all.
Leadership also means helping others be prepared for such events and letting them know that you have their backs. It is simply easier to act when we know that others are there to help us.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).