Having Courage to be Successful

Having courage involves much more than simply tattooing it onto yourself.

Success in any endeavor requires having courage at some level. Whether we're trying something new, traveling to an unfamiliar location, getting ourselves out of debt, recovering from a traumatic life situation, or trying to prepare ourselves for the future, it all takes courage.

Our mission as the courageous is to keep the faith, stay the course, suffer the "slings and arrows" of our critics, and encourage others who might be faltering in the face of challenges or setbacks.

We need to couple our courage with wisdom, foresight, fairness, patience and conviction. Let's first look at why courage is necessary, then let's look at some examples of where having courage has made a difference.

Why is Having Courage Necessary?

It might seem all so unnecessary to many of us. Why is it that we need to muster courage anyway? Aren't many of the things we do relatively easy? Yes, some of them are, but it still takes courage.

Here's why.

We need courage because many of us are afraid to make decisions, take a stand, speak in public, and fail at what we set out to accomplish. Those are the risks of being in charge of your own life.

Most of all, many of us are afraid that we might...succeed! Oh no! What would we do if we were successful? Being successful means you're "on top" to some extent, and you might even be at the top of your game. And, once you're there, the only place to go from there is down.

Yep, having courage is required because there are ups and downs associated with pursuing success. You can even see it in the Declaration of Independence..."Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." We aren't guaranteed happiness, just the right to pursue it and find it for ourselves.

And, that takes courage because it means your life is self-directed and self-managed, and you're taking individual responsibility for it. You're in charge, and being in charge takes courage.

Here are some examples of having courage in my life.

Managerial Courage

I once had an employee who was hired to build business and support projects. He came aboard our small consulting company and it soon became apparent that he was more interested in coasting than achieving. I had made a bad choice when hiring him.

Having courage is required when you're a manager and have to make tough decisions.

As a manager in the organization, I laid him off not too long after he came on board. This is an example of managerial courage. I couldn't have dead weight in my organization because that costs the company money. I couldn't allow someone to perform at a pedestrian level while others were working harder and with much more dedication, because that affects morale.

It's not an easy thing to do. It requires courage. But if I didn't do it, then there would be a drain on company resources and morale, and that's not right either. As a manager in the organization, my job was to make certain that my boss never had to do my job. If he did, then he wouldn't have needed me.

I've heard that management is an unnatural act, and sometimes it feels that way. Perhaps having courage is unnatural as well, but that's what it takes to succeed in a business endeavor.

Political Courage

In 2008, I ran for the House of Representatives in Wyoming. I was one of only a handful of Libertarians running for office across the state. Most liberty-minded candidates run as Republicans in Wyoming because they know that their chances of winning are much better.

I ran as a Libertarian because I believe in the principles of the party and I had no interest in pretending to support the other two major parties. I also had no illusions about the results that I would achieve in the election as a first time candidate running as a Libertarian...I wouldn't be successful in my bid for the office.

There were many issues where I stood alone, or nearly so, during public debates and answering questionnaires from various organizations. After my unsuccessful bid for office, I lobbied in the House and Senate in favor of some legislation, but mostly against legislation, even in cases where I was clearly the minority opinion.

I didn't win office, but I (with two of my associates) successfully lobbied against a state-wide smoking ban on private property.

It takes courage to state your views and provide reasonable arguments in favor of less government, fewer regulations, free enterprise, private property rights, more individual freedom and greater individual responsibility. Courage is required when you're in a room full of people who often have just the opposite political interests.

But, to do otherwise is cowardly and disingenuous.

Your Own Personal Courage

So, it's up to us to be courageous in our lives and be our own hero. It's in our best interest, and no one else is going to "step up to the plate." Why should they?

If you think having courage is difficult for daily tasks, just think of what's required of an astronaut.

Having courage is required if we're going to do anything above and beyond being average or commonplace. Living a pedestrian life is relatively easy to do. It's also easy to be a bystander, a watcher, a wall flower and a non-achiever. These are all things that require no courage at all. If you want more out of life than that, then having courage is a prerequisite.

It's up to us. The choice is rather simple. We either have courage and press forward or we look back at opportunities that we passed up with much regret. If we can mentally place ourselves in the future and look back on what we passed up, then perhaps we'll find the courage to take on challenges and be more successful.

One of the keys to having courage is to make certain we don't confuse it with fool-heartiness and recklessness, because that will get us nowhere fast.

Done with Having Courage, take me back to Critical Success Factors

Courage is necessary for just about everything we do. If you have the courage to ignore the laughter and ridicule directed your way, chances are in the end you'll be the one having a good laugh. Sometimes those who "throw tomatoes" do so because it's what they're capable of doing, and you're capable of much more than that.

In the event you're looking for more help than I'm offering, here are additional resources that might be of interest to you.