When a group of men are asked to sit and discuss “courage,” the conversation will almost always focus on physical courage. Physical courage is the type of courage required to sacrifice your physical body in hopes of reaching some desired outcome. In modern life physical courage can be witnessed in a hockey arena, a boxing ring, or with the direst consequences, on a battlefield.
There is a traditional masculine appeal to physical courage. We are instinctively drawn to it and often admire it. However, very few of us have a career or lifestyle requiring us to display physical courage, so it has little practical benefit to our daily lives or our roles as men and fathers. The new, more practical type of courage I am referring to is mental courage.
Mental courage is often overlooked and rarely discussed. However, it is the type of courage that allows us to expand, grow, and improve. Mental courage gives us the resilience to expose ourselves to areas of vulnerability or weakness and frees us from fear of judgement. It is the type of courage that views lack of competence as a growth opportunity or challenge, not as a definition of who we are or what we can become. Those who understand the concept of mental courage know that we must be prepared to look bad, in order to be great.
We need to be intentional about flexing our mental courage muscle.
Without mental courage we get stuck where we are comfortable. We shy away from new things. We get embarrassed easily. We are in constant fear of judgement. We can even protect areas of aptitude by not giving our best effort or challenging ourselves further. After all, if we give our best effort and don’t succeed, that must mean we aren’t really that good, right?
To a person without mental courage, effort = exposure = vulnerability = fear of judgement = inaction. Is this how you want your children to approach life?
Modern fathers need to be intentional about displaying mental courage. Our example of how we approach areas of discomfort is the type of leadership our children need. We must model a life of potential and opportunity through our actions, not just our words. Words are hollow when they come from someone sitting on the sidelines.
Get back in the arena of life! Be courageous enough to take on a goal you are fearing. Commit to the new lifestyle habit you perceive as difficult. Learn a new skill. Openly acknowledge times of struggle and be an example of perseverance and grit! Mentor possibility and potential!
When we are intentional about applying mental courage, we become resilient and we develop confidence. When we persevere through challenge, we symbolize grit. Mental courage is the foundation from which our children will explore their true potential.
Is there a greater gift a father can bestow on his kids, than the confidence to believe anything is possible when we have the mental courage to try?
Happy Father’s Day!
Jason Podollan is an NHL alumnus, father of three sons, and Founder of Up My Life, an online holistic health coaching service. Jason believes there is a superhero in all of us and the greatest gift you can offer your loved ones is your best self. Jason is a respected voice on men’s health issues and coaches healthy and sustainable lifestyle design.
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.