I’m in New York this week, staying right next to the World Trade Center. Walking the streets surrounding the 9/11 Memorial site arouses conflicting emotions — equal parts pride & anger. Any American, any human being, who has been to this place knows the feeling, and it isn’t easy to put into words. But it got me thinking about one word in particular: COURAGE.
You see, nothing worth while in our lives can be achieved without courage. The men & women who built America showed tremendous courage to brave a dangerous new world in opposition of tyranny. First responders on September 11, 2001 courageously risked their lives to save others. Many of them paying the ultimate price. And our country has shown courage in the 12 years since the attack.
But what role does courage play in our lives? As inspiring as the stories are of those who have displayed courage in the face adversity, they do little to reflect the daily experience of life & work. The word “courage” comes from the Latin word for “strength of heart”. To have courage is not to be without fear or anxiety, but to have values on your heart that are stronger than your fear. The truth is that we need courage — a strong heart — every day, not just in extreme circumstances. We need courage to be a good father or mother, husband or wife, boss or employee. It requires courage to change habits, receive feedback, & exert self-control.
To be clear: courage doesn’t happen by accident or by default. It is the result of intentional choices. It comes from being clear about the values at the heart of your life & intentionally living those values through your actions on a daily basis. C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” So take some time over the next week to refocus & reclarify the values that strengthen your heart. Build your courage. Every day presents moments when you will need it.