By March 15, 2013 No Comments

A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the character education words our basketball team had used: integrity. It generated a good response and discussion, so this week we are going to discuss another character ed term: courage.

Courage can mean different things to different people depending on the context and walk of life it’s used in. Simply put, courage is the mental or moral strength to persevere, and withstand difficulty or fear. Aristotle said, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” To me courage is one of the most essential qualities one must possess. In order to achieve anything of value, one must possess the courage to chase his or her dreams.

In the film, [amazon-product text=”We Bought a Zoo” type=”text”]B004LWZW9W[/amazon-product], there is a scene where a father and son share a moment. The son is having trouble dealing with the emotions and feelings he is developing for a girl. He doesn’t know whether or not to tell her about his feelings or even if he should at all. As the father and son are sitting there, the father tells his son the most important advice he’s ever received. This advice, which came from his brother, has guided him throughout his life. The advice is simple yet profound: “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.” That’s it; just that amount of time is all that is needed to make a dream become a reality. It doesn’t matter if it’s a girl, a job, a sport; you need courage. If you want something bad enough, you must have the courage to go for it. Fear cannot win and prevent you from doing what you want. It’s been said that if you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to ask 1,000 people for it, even if it means being told “no” 999 times. The difference between those who are successful and those who are not is the successful ones have the courage to go after their dreams. They are not afraid of failure. That’s true courage.

When you think of courage, what type of people do you think of? There is one image that comes to mind for me. It is the image of American troops walking out of a boat and up the beach of Normandy during WWII. These men are the perfect illustration of courage because they were walking into enemy fire, chaos, and probable death. I am sure so many of them were afraid and fearful of what would happen to them as they left the boats and stormed the beaches. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t scared; it means you go anyways. We used this picture during our season and talked about how we are all scared of things in our life but if we believe in something and know it’s the right thing to do, we must have the courage to follow through on it. When there is a cause that is important, you must have the courage to stand up for it. You can’t allow others to take what’s right and important away.

An important lesson to teach student athletes is that it is okay to stand up for their beliefs. Many times young kids and teenagers will let peer pressure or public opinion get in the way of them doing the right thing. For example, many kids don’t stick up for someone who is being picked on or bullied because they are fearful of what might happen to them as a result. If we as a society can teach our children to have the courage to stand up for others and what’s right, we can make an impact on this world.

It is also important that we teach our children the courage to follow their heart. The heart does not lie. The late, great Steve Jobs said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Mr. Jobs is the perfect illustration of courage. He had a dream and vision and did not let anyone get in his way. He did not let the detractors stop him. His own company even fired him at one point but he had the courage to stay with it and as a result, he helped revolutionize our technological world.

I think that too many of us let other people’s opinions dictate what we do or how we act. The fear of rejection and failure paralyzes us into complacency. Our kids need to know that is ok to have big dreams. They need to know it’s ok to fail when chasing these dreams. Failure is what makes greatness. Kathryn Stockett, the author of the novel [amazon-product text=”The Help” type=”text”]0399157913[/amazon-product], had her manuscript rejected close to 30 times before a publisher accepted it. As Mr. Jobs stated, she had the courage not to listen to everyone who rejected her work. She had the courage to follow her intuition that her work was worth reading and was something that would be great. She followed her heart. Imagine how different some of our lives would be if we just had that courage to follow the big dreams we all have.

Remember that sometimes all it takes is to have those 20 seconds of insane courage. Whatever it is you want, go for it! Have the courage to stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and what is right.

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!