This posting on the courageous man is part of my Masculine Design series of articles dedicated to exploring the distinct characteristics men have been endowed with that make us masculine. The purpose of this series is not just to impart knowledge but to motivate men to action.
Do you instinctively act without giving the tendrils of fear an opportunity to hold you back or do you fix your mind on all that could possibly go wrong to the point of paralysis?
What I’m asking is whether you’re a man of courage or a coward?
It’s a heavy question that’s loaded with personal implications. So great are the implications that your answer to this question will literally predict your success or failure in every area of your life. Every. Single. One.
Courage is often viewed as being abstract, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward concept. Let’s break it down into its simplest terms.
A coward is a man who knows the right thing to do but allows fear to keep him from doing it. The courageous man knows the right thing to do, is equally fearful, yet does it anyway.
Acting in the face of fear is courage. Choosing not to act in the face of fear is the mark of a coward.
To be clear, every action we take isn’t necessarily courageous. Indeed, there’s a stark demarcation between actions that are courageous and those that are reckless.
Courageous action is taken as a matter of principle. It’s predictable and pre-determined.
The actions of men taken from a foundation lacking principle are reckless, because they’re unpredictable, spurious, and dangerous.
Courage is a Choice
Courage is something every man has the same capacity to express. Yet, if we’re being honest, most of us would admit to wishing we displayed a little more of it at times.
Nevertheless, what we often fail to remember, men, is that a display of courage is nothing more than a choice to act. That’s it.
A common misconception is that the ability to act courageously requires the elimination of fear. The reality is that fear is the nemesis every courageous action must slay. After all, how can an action be considered courageous without the presence of fear vying to restrain it?
The most courageous men aren’t the ones that are fearless. They’re the ones that are the most fearful of the action required of them, yet choose to act despite their fears. John Wayne put it this way: Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
The men of the U.S. armed forces don’t engage our enemies without the presence of fear. They do it even as gut-wrenching fear festers within. This is courage.
Christ was so fearful before his scourging and subsequent crucifixion that he was literally sweating blood. This is a rare condition known as hematidrosis that is brought on by the most extreme levels of fear and anxiety. Jesus completed His life’s mission under the most intense fear one can experience. This is courage.
Courage is a man’s most valuable virtue. For a man lacking courage is a man that’s missing the key ingredient required to consistently live out all other masculine virtues. A man cannot lead, love, provide, and defend to his full potential without the application of exemplary courage.
It takes courage to do what is best for those under your leadership when the decision isn’t a popular one. Sharing tough love with those staring into an abyss of self-destruction – who are likely to resent you for it – requires courage.
The heart of a lion is needed to stand firm on your convictions and envelop yourself with an air of irrational self confidence.
Extracting The Courageous Man From Within
Courage is a muscle that must be strategically trained. The invasion on the beaches of Normandy wasn’t the first time those men of renown flexed the muscles of their courage. It was the culmination of many smaller courageous acts that prepared them for such a climactic battle.
You must start where you are and build from there. Find opportunities to display courage in your day-to-day grind.
For some, simply holding eye contact with others during conversation will be enough to stimulate the muscles of their courage. Others need to make it a point to stop being silenced out of fear and speak up when they have something to say.
You have to walk with a productive chip on your shoulder, so that when you find yourself feeling reserved or fearful about taking a certain action, you will instinctively prove to yourself that you have the courage to overcome by acting in brash defiance of that fear.
If someone takes advantage of you, confront them. Have the uncomfortable but necessary conversations you’ve been putting off. Be cordial, but make the points that need to be made. Stop letting fear cripple you from taking action on your desire to increase your value as a man.
Stop being paralyzed at the thought of discomfort. Start welcoming challenges as opportunities. Face adversity with irrational self-confidence.
Take responsibility for your actions. Stop blaming others for the undesirable circumstances in your life and learn from your mistakes. Have the courage to admit that your life is exactly what you’ve made of it and then act to improve it.
Either you will take control of your life’s trajectory or someone else will.
Say no to the decaying culture’s allure of rampant consumerism. Shake its toxic dust from your feet as you flip it the bird, turn your back, and move on to greener pastures. Have the tenacity to build and create something you can call your own that will provide value to others.
The value of courage and the consequences of cowardice can’t be overstated.
For those of us who fill the roles of father and husband the courage we display is a barometer of security for our wife and kids. They will instinctively detect it when cowardice is being emitted from you as the masculine leader of the home.
When you display weakness in your ability to lead, they rightly recognize that the security they depend upon you to provide has been compromised.
When that happens the respect your children have for you will rapidly diminish. This will often result in insubordinate behavior used as a means of testing your ability to provide the secure leadership they need from their father. Yes, kids sh*t test too.
Your wife will attempt to fill the void in family leadership you’ve created. This will place immense undue stress on her, for which she will soon resent you. Her libido will dry up and sex will become infrequent (or nonexistent).
Few men consciously fear the consequences of cowardice, but it is cowardice that will silently pick apart your life until it lies in shambles.
Transform Into a Man of Courage
Fear can’t be eliminated, but we can use it to our advantage. The onus is on us to choose whether we relinquish our power to it through inaction or use it to train the muscles of our courage.
The courageous man resists fear by taking action. Like a muscle regularly trained under the strain of a barbell, your ability to ignore fear will continue to build over time, as you slowly actualize your life’s potential in the process.
You gain strength when you voluntarily expose yourself to that which you’re avoiding out of fear. Conversely, the consequences of failing to confront your fears are devastating. Doing so trains you to retreat toward comfort, causing your masculine courage to atrophy away. Before long you become passive, unknowingly abdicating control of your life to others.
The only way to prevent this from happening is by transforming yourself into a man of courage. This can only be accomplished by consistently taking necessary action in spite of the opposition fear places in your path. There is no other way.
The courageous man accepts this reality and acts accordingly.
– Craig James
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