What is courage and do you have it?

Episode 28 in Part 2 of our Introduction series: Getting to know yourself.

Habits:  Stretch | Action Oriented

Skills:  Courage | Facing Fear

Description:  In this episode, we introduce the importance of courage, explaining that it's regarded by many as the most important of the virtues. We outline the 4 characteristics of courage as defined by Robert Biswas-Diener and introduce one very simple way to help you increase your courage. 

How this lesson might be discussed with your child

This episode outlines the importance of courage, suggesting that courage is a valuable virtue when it comes to living up to any other virtues.

We discuss what it means to be courageous and consider two different types of courage as defined by Robert Biswas-Diener:

  1. General courage - the type of acts that require bravery from anyone.

  2. Personal courage - acts that would require you to be brave, but not necessarily someone else.

We introduce an idea from Ron West, that one way to build your own courage, is to simply help others to be more courageous by encouraging them to be brave in the face of their fears.

When discussing this episode, some prompts might include:

  • Would you describe yourself as a courageous person? Why/Why not?

  • What are some acts that you think of as courageous?

  • Which of these are general courage and which are personal courage?

  • Do you think general or personal courage is harder to acquire? Why?

  • Do you think you can build your own courage by simply helping others to build theirs? Why/Why not?

  • What could you do to encourage someone else when they're facing a fear?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion around friends, family, celebrities, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss people who are known to have been courageous in taking on their fears. As with our previous example on fear, a good example might be King George VI (The subject of the movie 'The King's Speech') who worked to overcome a stammer, in order to be able to deliver public speeches. Students might also know a friend or family member who is afraid of flying, public speaking etc who has managed to fly or speak in public despite their fear.

Some possible questions may include:

  • Can you think of anyone, a friend, family member or famous person who has been courageous?

  • What is it that makes them courageous?

  • Do you think you can be courageous? Why/Why not?

  • What would you need to do to be more courageous?

  • If you could be courageous whenever you wanted, how would it improve your life? Why?

  • What do you think you would try if you had unlimited amounts of courage? Why that?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." — Maya Angelou

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you think that courage is the most important of all the virtues? Why/Why not?

  • If courage isn't the most important virtue - what is? Why?

  • Do you think there are virtues that you can practice without courage? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think practicing a virtue consistently is important?

  • Are there things you'd like to practice more consistently?

  • How do you think courage would help you to be more consistent in your practice?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Ron West: Finding The Courage To Be Yourself.


Or you might like to read:

The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver.
by Robert Biswas-Diener, 2012.