The strength of courage
Strengths is far and away my most favourite topic in positive psychology and is something that for over a decade now, I have passionately researched and applied in my life. Whenever I take a strengths survey, whether it be the VIA Character Strengths, StrengthsFinder or Realise2 (now renamed R2) it is quite often that definitions of courage or bravery come lower down my list of strengths. It has often got me thinking about why this seems to be consistently the case. I wondered whether I’m too contented in my comfort zone, have I got complacent or am I not a risk taker? Am I really a coward?
Coward may well be too strong a term as there are things that I do, which I would consider show the strength of courage and at the same time, maybe I don’t take outlandish risks.
Different types of courage
We all have different ideas of what an act of courage looks like and I believe that simply getting out of your comfort zone is a sign that the strength of courage is in play.
The strength of courage doesn’t have to be an amazing show of bravery, such as saving a person from drowning, fighting on the frontline in a war or contending with an adversity. Courage can also be in standing up for what you believe in, following your passion, believing in yourself when others may not or simply moving outside your comfort zone.
Getting out of my comfort zone
By doing acts which are courageous to you, you can expand your comfort zone. Similar to Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory of positive emotions, you begin to develop your strength of courage and there becomes an upward spiral of increasing your comfort zone. In this past year, I’ve frequently found myself out of my comfort zone and having to do things that I wouldn’t have normally chosen to do. As a result, I’ve learned new skills that I may never have had the chance to use before, I’m communicating with people I never dreamed I would have been able to be in contact with and been a co-founder of this wonderful website, The Positive Psychology People. For me, the main act of courage I’ve recently shown is to leave the security of a career in an organization, in order to follow my passion of working with people and organisations to help them go from good to great. I’ve founded a company, Positive Psychology Learning, with my dear friend, Lesley Lyle, which is steeped in positive psychology, which is a subject close to our hearts. It feels like on a daily basis that I’m developing my strength of courage and expanding my comfort zone.
Maybe it’s time to retake a strengths questionnaire to see where courage currently ranks for me.
The Courage of the Coward
If you are following me on Twitter (@dancollinson), I am going to start doing live broadcast on the app Periscope of when I am just about to show the strength of courage, am in the middle of showing it or have just applied the strength of courage, which has taken me out of my comfort zone. I’ll warn you now not to expect skydiving or wrestling crocodiles, but look out for #courageofthecoward