Courage, Character, and a Sense of Duty

Having taken the dive headfirst into the Mental Fitness Challenge, I’m starting feel it’s both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is obviously that I get to become the best version of myself I possibly can be. The curse?

I have to grow.

Developing a Spine

The saying goes that a wishbone will never take the place of a backbone. Growth demands courage, something of which I’ve been in very short supply for a very long time. Not that I was ever planning on admitting that to anyone; I could fill multiple books with the litany of excuses I’ve fed to myself and to others over the years as to why I am where I am today, and I’m sure none of them started off with the words, “I’m scared.” But the MFC forces us to face the facts about ourselves, and that fact was and is that I’m a terrified mess. How about you?

The good news, of course, is that no one is forcing us (or me- I could be alone here) to stay a mess. Courage is not some intangible quality that only some people have. The difference between the men and women who have stepped out against the fold to conquer their fears and those who have not is, as British essayist Joseph Addison writes, where we draw our strength:

Courage that grows from constitution often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; courage which arises from a sense of duty acts in a uniform manner.”

LIFE founder and leadership expert Claude Hamilton explains the unreliability of our constitution by equating it to our temperament, which is fleeting at best. “If you’re waiting for the ‘right mood’ to catapult you into success and it hasn’t done so already, stop waiting.” If we’re to have the courage to move forward in life, it will require more than what our own set of ever-changing emotions can provide; it requires a sense of duty. And where can we build this sense within us?


“Character,” as Claude puts it, “is what will allow you to follow through on a decision long after the mood in which you made the decision is gone. Character is stronger than your constitution.” It also happens to be the focus of Resolution #2 in Orrin Woodward’s RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE and the focus of Week #2 in the Mental Fitness Challenge. (Are we seeing a connection here?)

RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFEFrom Orrin’s book, “Courage, in today’s pragmatic world, is a lost virtue that must be re-birthed in order for character-based leadership to thrive again.”

I clearly have a lot of work left to do, but the question I’m left with is this: “How much further along could my life be if I stopped letting fear dictate my choices?” Courage “is not the absence of fear, but the perception that there is something far more important at stake.” Anyone unwilling to move beyond his comfort is someone plagued by fear, whether he’ll admit it or not.

So how about it? Will you take the challenge with me, push through fear, and set out to make a difference in this world?

Onward in victory,

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” – Victor Hugo



  1. Rob Crichlow · · Reply

    Grow is never easy … just worth it. Proud of you.

  2. so true Catherine

  3. Debby · · Reply

    Another great post, Catherine. I’m so proud of your continuing efforts to pursue excellence.

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