Courage for me is not courage for you
Courage here is not courage there
When I speak with my Chinese friends about courage, they will often respond with, “You don’t really know the Chinese culture.” Or sometimes they will respond with, “Courage is easy for you, but it’s something I can’t do.”
What my friends are missing, and I am not getting through to them, is that courage is always contextual.
Courage differs from person to person
What is courage for one person is not courage for another person. An example: John's not afraid to start his own business, but he's afraid to ask for a date.
Henry is not afraid to ask for a date, but he's afraid to start his own business.
Courage differs from culture to culture
What is courage in one culture is not courage in another culture. An example: In Chinese culture, it’s often a major choice of courage for an unmarried woman to live separately from her parents, especially if she wants to live by herself.
In American culture, it’s rarely a major choice of courage for an unmarried woman, after the age of 18 or 21,
to leave her parents’ home; it is often expected of her by her parents and society.
Courage differs from family to family
What is courage in one family is not courage in another family. An example: In my family, when I was growing up, I needed no courage to follow my own heart and head to explore and discover my life career;
my parents unconditionally encouraged me to pursue whatever interests I developed.
In many families, children often face a lot of pressure or expectation from their parents to pursue or avoid a particular career choice or choices, thereby opening up the opportunity for the children to choose courage
in order to follow their own interests.
Courage differs for the person you are today compared to the person you were yesterday
What is courage for me today is not courage for me tomorrow. An example: At one time, I had to choose courage to turn to the person standing next to me in line and ask, “What do you like best about standing in line?”
Today, I have no nervousness or fear associated with doing this. It's a piece of cake.
Courage is not measured by the "size" of the action
Courage is measured by the size of the fear one embraces, and by honoring oneself for taking the action in the presence of that fear. An example: Heather feels only a bit of fear to ask her boss for a raise, yet she is terrified to ask her husband to touch her a bit differently when they make love.
Courage here is not courage there
As such, both fear and courage are totally contextual and individual, only applying to you, with your background, with your family, inside your culture, at this moment, in your current mood, in your current physical surroundings, as you are alone or with others, as you are currently speaking with and listening to others, with your current thoughts, with your current desires and commitments, with your current way of interpreting the world, and so on.
The power in remembering that courage is affected by context
When we don’t know or we forget that courage is contextual, we limit our power to choose it; we, therefore, restrict our ability to have the life we want.
Now that you understand that courage is contextual, what new opportunities for choosing courage do you see for yourself that you didn’t see before?
Now tell yourself or tell another which of these opportunities you will embrace.
What others have said...
"This place where you are...this place where you stand...is where you must start. From here you can go in any direction and to any destination...and it is impossible to start from anywhere else."
“The dumbest risk is not taking risks, specifically those gambles that enliven and flesh out our resonance with our core of Being.”
–Robert Augustus Masters
“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.”
“What a new face courage puts on everything!”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“One man with courage makes a majority.”
–Andrew Jackson, 1767-1845, seventh president of the United States