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Five essential components of courage

Thursday, September 12, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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When Zen Under Fire came out last year, people started asking me about courage. ‘Where did you find the courage to go to Afghanistan? They asked. ‘Weren’t you afraid, as a woman?’ Some asked where I found the courage to be so honest in my memoir. ‘Weren’t you afraid to reveal so much about yourself?’ they wanted to know, ‘Didn’t you worry someone in your book would be unhappy with you?’

The answer, of course, is yes. I was afraid of all those things. And – yet – I did them anyway. Which is what it means to be brave, I guess.

So I started thinking about courage. What it is, and where it comes from. I read about courage. I asked some of the bravest people I know where they got their courage from. And I dug deep into the soil of my own life to see what I could learn from the times when I had been brave, and – equally – the times I had not.

What I discovered was:

Not only are we all inherently brave, but we can re-cultivate our innate courage even after long periods of living in fear. – Click to tweet

I also discovered that also courage is essential to pretty much everything that will ever matter in your life (including parenting, creativity, friendship, love, finding and doing meaningful work and dealing with illness and death), courage alone is not enough.

I learned that courage is both an essential quality for a good life and a doorway to all the other qualities you need to live the life you hunger for: a live filled with love, meaning, purpose and joy.

I thought about courage so much, I created a program all about courage. And after 18 months of running this program, and witnessing hundreds of people start living a more courageous life, I’ve created my own map of courage.  It begins with the five essential complements to courage.

Courage isn’t complete without:

1. Curiosity – the antidote to dogma

2. Clarity – the antidote to confusion

3. Connection/Compassion – the antidote to overwhelm and burnout

4. Creativity – the antidote to martydom

5. Courage – the antidote to fear and apathy

In short: you need courage to cultivate curiosity, clarity, connection and creativity – and to create change.

Without all those qualities, your courage may not take you where you want to go.

More on courage – and each of it’s essential complements – over the coming weeks. If you want to make sure you get all the posts in this series on courage (and to have all my posts delivered to your inbox) you can subscribe using the form at the bottom of this post. Unless you are reading this in your inbox, in which case, you are already sorted.

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