Courage Is A Tricky Thing

by Tanya Geisler on · 10 comments

Rarely do you see an act of courage and recognize it immediately for what it is.

There is seldom a rousing crescendo of music playing to bring our attention round to a courageous feat before us. It helps when someone points it out.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew." – spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Courage often masquerades as something else. Or our judgment shrouds what we're witnessing and calls it something easier for us to digest.

Sometimes it looks like dogmatic stubbornness.

Sometimes it looks like bravery.

Sometimes it looks like martyrdom.

Sometimes it looks like doing the impossible.

Sometimes it looks like love: of self or others.

Sometimes it looks like naïveté.

Sometimes it looks like doing it alone.

Sometimes it looks like doing it together.

Sometimes it looks like elegance and poise.

Sometimes it looks like snot and tears and sweat.

Sometimes it looks like doing it "in spite of…"

Sometimes it looks like alienation.

Sometimes it looks like risk.

Sometimes it looks like tender vulnerability.

Sometimes it looks like breaking through.

Sometimes it looks like stoicism.

Sometimes it looks like pacifism.

Sometimes it looks like rebellion.

Sometimes it looks like relentless compassion.

Sometimes it looks like cutting something loose.

Sometimes it looks like forgiveness.

Sometimes it looks like admitting defeat.

Sometimes it looks like uncompromising integrity.

Sometimes it looks like stopping.

Sometimes it looks like starting.

Sometimes it looks like power.

Sometimes it looks like weakness.

Sometimes it looks like blind faith.

No matter what it looks like, its source is not to be refuted. TRUE courage comes from the heart. Etymologically and figuratively.

Whether it's in kicking your morphine habit before you die like Mrs Dubose, holding vigil for someone's worry so they can sleep, calling out a gang of teenagers on the subway to give up a seat to an elderly man, or loving fully and completely.

The trick is in trusting the irrevocable truth that lies in the heart. Hearing the call for courage and heeding it.

Tricky business, indeed.

by Tanya Geisler

Clarity. Action. Achievement. Joy. Tanya Geisler is a CTI-certified coach (a.k.a. "catalyst, not therapist") and speaker who believes that life is a grand production...and it's time for you to step into your starring role. And radiate. Right now.
Tanya Geisler
View all posts by Tanya Geisler
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

David Stevens March 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Now that’s a fresh perspective Tanya…nice work, thankyou
be good to yourself
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Tanya March 23, 2012 at 8:56 am

“Fresh”. I like that. Thank you!
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Jon Mertz March 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Yes, tricky, indeed. Listening and discerning are vital things to do carefully and thoughtfully. Great way to think this through. Thanks!
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Tanya March 23, 2012 at 9:40 am

Thank YOU, Jon!
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Deeone Higgs March 23, 2012 at 9:17 am

Fabulous descriptions of courage, Tanya! I likey! 🙂

It’s so true that courage comes in so many forms. As you said, it only takes us noticing when it needs to be applied. It’s looking fear in the eyes and telling it to, “SCRAM!” 😀 I loved the list, but my favorite that I got a kick out of because of the mental picture, “Some­times it looks like snot and tears and sweat.” You are right about that, my friend. Been there, and yes, done that! 😉 Great post! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
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Alice March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Very useful post. I’ll be pinning this.
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Jennifer Richardson March 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

stirs my heart to summersaults,
these artful words
on courage!
brave is so beautiful:)
thanks for the inspire,


Tim March 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

Hi Tanya:

Very insightful description of courage…you are so right that what might be courageous to you might seem like stupidity or stubbornness to others. I think of this in the sense of a job hunter getting pressure from his/her family to find gainful employment. Or someone who’s single and making the courageous decision not to settle instead of marrying someone he/she has a few reservations about. I enjoyed this post, great job!
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Aileen | Kaizen Vision March 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm

“There is sel­dom a rous­ing crescendo of music play­ing to bring our atten­tion round to a coura­geous feat before us. ”

I loved reading this! It’s easy to feel un-courageous because we think courage looks like something other than what we see. Sometimes it really does take someone pointing it out so that we can see it.

To live life true to ourselves requires consistent courage – in all forms.
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Dan Black March 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

These are some great point of what courage might look like. Thank you for sharing these points.


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