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Courage Isn’t a Trait. It’s a Muscle.

I spoke on a panel this week for the Global Women’s Leadership Summit. The title of the panel was “Courage in Action.”

This is what I shared on the panel. Courage is not a trait. You don’t have to identify yourself as a “courageous person” or see yourself as a courageous leader in order to make courageous choices. Like anything else, courage is simply a muscle. The most you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

We often connect courage with Fire Fighters, cops, and in general with people who risk their life for others. But, the word courage actually stems from the word cuer in French. It means heart.

To have heart is to make the tough choices. The choices which don’t require you to be a courageous person, only a person who is willing to make courageous choices.

Don’t confuse a muscle which can be trained with a trait you feel you may or may not possess. Because as the lion in the Wizard of Oz teaches us, you certainly don’t need courage in order to make brave choices. You only think you do.