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Heroic Courage - from the 7 Bushido Virtues

Heroic Courage (Yu)

Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. To live our best lives, we must have heroic courage. Take risks, replace fear with respect and caution. Heroic Courage is not blind but intelligent and strong.

What defines a heroic act? A heroic act is one performed with recognition of possible risks and costs, be they to one's physical health or personal reputation, in which the actor is willing to accept anticipated sacrifice. Finally, it is performed without external gain anticipated at the time of the act.

We can recall easily the Tham Luang cave rescue In Thailand on 23rd June 2018. Twelve young members of a soccer team and their coach became trapped deep inside the cave after monsoon rains flooded their exit. Miraculously all the boys went on to be rescued safely. It was an event that captivated the whole world it seemed. I can vividly remember awaiting the next news update and with each day passing without them being found the realisation this was not likely to be a Hollywood ending.

But rescued they were, and we got to watch it all in magnificent detail as it unfolded. What a truly emotional event that was to witness. I had the privilege a little while after the event to sit in front of the two Australia divers, Richard Harris and Craig Challen at their first public appearance as they recounted their version of events.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and they received a standing ovation for serval minutes as I recall. Heroic Courage doesn’t justify the actions they took. We must not forget the tragic loss of life of Saman Kunan and Beirut Pakbara, Thai Navy Seals who lost their lives through being involved in the rescue. More than 10,000 people and 100 divers were involved in the rescue all of them fall into the category of Heroic Courage.

I don’t have a personal Heroic Courage story that stands out, as a small boy I often imagined myself being the hero, saving the world whilst everyone looked on admiringly. I’m sure many of us have imagined something similar. But does that mean we’ve not conducted heroic acts of courage within our lifetime? Of course not! Each of us are faced with events that require extraordinary courage to overcome. The death of a family member, close friend or loved one, a critical illness, relocating to another city or country, a significant relationship ending, starting a new one, losing your job or trying to secure a new one.

In short, life changing events happen, and we must deal with them. Whether they are of our making or not. Let’s consider the different events in our life that require us to draw on courage. There are those that happen to us, I call these “Burning Platforms” and those that we mastermind or create ourselves, I call these “Burning Aspirations”

Burning Platforms, such as those I just mentioned are seldom, if ever invited, and can take us the edge or even push us into the abyss. The human spirit is beyond comprehension in its ability to survive, even to thrive when it appears all else is lost.

Courage finds us when we least expect in these circumstances. It’s only retrospectively that we understand how we’ve managed to function through those events. We should consider this and remind ourselves that we do possess courage and that we are able to be the heroes within our life story.

We all know someone within our circle this relates too, even if we refuse to see it in ourselves. I have two fathers within my martial arts club whose children are students. Both are remarkable men whom I admire tremendously, their children are amongst the most well-mannered and respectful I’ve met. They each have significant adversity in their lives and yet you wouldn’t know it for a second as they choose life, love and living ahead of all else. That’s Heroic Courage.

Finding courage for our Burning Ambitions, however, is a different ball game and I do want to reflect on that for a moment. We already know that to create significant change in our lives is extraordinarily difficult. In the main it’s fear that holds us back. In our most positive state of mind our Burning Ambitions seem realistic and easily reachable. All they require is a solid strategy, decent action plan and dose of discipline to kick start the journey. We can do anything we put our minds to right!?

Then the voice of reason tiptoes in and offers a perspective the more positive you hadn’t considered. Before you know it, a long list has been created which has just saved you from making a terrible blunder, wasting effort and worse – embarrassing yourself! The change you thought you could make is now more realistically in the ‘too hard for you to achieve basket’ ironically, you’re somewhat grateful for this little side bar conversation from reason.

Here’s the truth – you can achieve your Burning Ambitions. It does take Heroic Courage and you have that ability if you just believe it.

Here’s my top three tips to help bring out your Heroic Courage

1. Face your fears. You can’t live life without coming across fear. It’s a healthy reaction that’s kept us alive, it’s primal and we should of course respect it. At the same time in almost all cases, fear is an overreaction to a situation. It’s highly unlikely we will die from public speaking, small spaces, flying, spiders, insert your own phobia here.

Facing our fear and conquering it is a game changer. My fear was competing in karate. I avoided doing it for many years. It held me back. Not until I sought support, understood why I was scared and then worked to build my confidence did I overcome that fear. It took more than a few occasions of standing on the mats to compete before I felt I’d conquered it. It still scares me, but I enjoy it more than I fear it now. I’ve repeated this framework for other things that I was afraid of too.

2. Adopt a Growth Mindset. If you believe that hard work, coaching and insights from others that know, and that your skills can be developed and improved over time to create a path to mastery, then you already have a growth mindset. Failure is an opportunity to learn and if we see it this way, we are less likely to fear it. Our destiny is in our own hands to control.

Believing in yourself and your abilities requires grit, your determination will set you apart from others. In doing so you will be less likely to need ‘approval’ from others, rather you seek your own approval. You won’t have all the answers when you tread a new path to a better life, bigger role, new company, different country, new sport or whatever exciting Burning Ambition journey you have chosen. A growth mindset will allow you to live comfortable with the ambiguity of the unknown.

3. Visualise your Success. Much has been written on this topic. Visualising your success goes a long way to achieving it. Creating a movie in your head and replaying all the possible scenes that leave you achieving your desired outcome has been proven to work. We hear of top performing athletes, successful business leaders, and Hollywood actors who all use variations of creating visual images of the success they are seeking to attain the desired outcome.

Your brain is a powerful organ, it reacts to the things you say and the images you create. Building words and images of the success you desire can enable your brain to subconsciously create that scenario. Over time it does not distinguish the difference between you imagining it happening or it actually happening.

By visualising your success daily your subconscious awareness is more open to the activities that would enable your success and allows them to be prioritised over others. Helps with motivation too.

You should be specific in your visualisations, be regular with them and create emotional hooks to pictures, words or movies you create.

Next week the virtue Honour (Meiyo)

To your continued future health, success, and happiness

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