Rank Your Courage Quotient Here!

This new 1-10 scale will reveal your "Courage Quotient."

Posted Apr 07, 2019

Nothing is more important than courage that requires us to act when we are afraid or uncomfortable. And isn't it tempting to take tests that purport to tell us how we shape up compared to other people, or to that great measuring rod in the sky?  

But beware of experts (in this case, me) who make large and silly promises! The truth is that you can’t rank yourself on a 1-10 “Courage Scale” This is because we are all brave in some ways and not in others. Let's think about our "courage quotient" in a new way. 

There  are so many ways a person can act with courage, or fail to, even on a particular day. What constitutes courage is rarely the heroic deeds that action and adventure films are made of. Don’t assume that your best friend who is preparing to go on a safari in Africa lives more courageously than you do because you like to stay close to home and are afraid to get on an airplane. 

Your relationship to home and place may include experiments in the kitchen or garden that require an adventurous spirit. Maybe you say or do things that are brave in your personal relationships that are hard for you—and you say or do them anyway. Maybe you are brave enough to share vulnerability and ask for help when you need it.

And maybe your adventurous, risk-taking friend is totally unable to find her voice to talk with her parents about high-twitch subjects.  Maybe she isn't brave enough to talk honestly with friends about her insecurities and limitations. (We all have them). Maybe she isn't brave enough to say, "I apologize.  I was wrong."

In order to identify and honor your own courage remember this:

*Private, invisible acts of courage are not apparent to others. Your own courage may not be apparent even to to you. You have to practice spotting it.

*What constitutes a courageous act will not be the same for two people, or even for the same person on a different day.

In one circumstance, courage might mean giving vent to the full measure of your anger. In a different situation, you may need to muster every molecule of courage to open a difficult conversation in a kind and temperate way when you want to come out with guns blazing.

For example, courage for me in the psychiatric hospital I used to work in required that I experiment with not speaking up. It made me quite uncomfortable to refrain from saying the tempting thing at the wrong moment, and to go the hard route of thoughtfully deciding how and when to say what to whom.  It took courage to clarify for myself what I really wanted to accomplish in my work setting, and to know when to be strategic rather than spontaneous in accomplishing difficult goals. Choosing silence over speech, so that I could become a more effective agent of change, took all my courage.

How do you know what's courageous for you?  First, you need to clarify your authentic goals, values, beliefs and directions. Perhaps your intuition tells you to sign up for a dance class, or to initiate more contact with your brother, or re-visit a painful issue with your mother. Perhaps your intention is to create a better marriage. Then you need to act—and stay on course—even when you meet with the inevitable resistance from within and without. 

The more you can identify and honor even the smallest ways you have been brave, the more you will become braver still.  Everything worth doing requires practice.  Learn the specific steps you can take to become braver still.  

Forget about your CQ  and all those ranking scales that invite you compare yourself with others and then hide in shame in the darkest corner.  As with IQ, courage and other personal qualities that matter, can never be ranked with a number!