10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #5 COURAGE


Here is the list of positive psychology author Scott Ventrella’s 10 traits of a positive thinker: 1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.  I am expanding on each trait in a 10-part series.

This blog addresses Courage in Leadership.  If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who exhibits courage at work.

  • Do I prevent crises from paralyzing me?
  • Do I speak up on unpopular positions if I think they have merit?
  • Do I take on assignments that interest me even when the odds of a favorable outcome are slim?
  • Do I stay on course even when things get uncertain?
  • Do I support colleagues who are being excluded due to implicit/explicit bias?

What strategic business plan would you implement if you were ten times bolder?

The word Courage is from Latin cor, meaning “heart.”  You may have heard the phrase, “Take heart.” It is power that is drawn from within.  It is the willingness to take risks and overcome fears, even when the outcome is uncertain; AND, it is also the willingness to move forward on your values, even when you know the outcome will be unfavorable.  The antonym to courage is “cowardice.”   The word “coward” comes from Latin cauda, which means “tail,” as in when a dog runs away with its tail between its legs.  Fear is what often prevents us from acting courageously in the workplace.

Scott Ventrella: Fear creates a certain degree of desperation that can cause us to compromise ourselves.  Many people mistakenly believe that courage is the absence of fear, but, to the contrary, courage is acting in spite of our fears. (pg. 137; emphasis added).

Here are some more favorite quotes on courage:

C.S. Lewis: Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

Mark Twain: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

Eleanor Roosevelt:  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Sir Winston Churchill:  Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Paulo Coelho: An act of courage is always an act of love.

Mary Anne Radmacher:  Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”

And, from the animated feature film A Bug’s Life: You let one ant stand up to us, and they all might stand up! Those “puny little ants” outnumber us a hundred to one. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life! It’s not about food. It’s about keeping those ants in line. THAT’S WHY WE’RE GOING BACK! Does anyone else wanna stay?

Take courage.  Embrace your fears (that’s how you squash them into oblivion).

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com


Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001. (pp. 37-38, 40, 44, 85).


©Rossina Gil, 2013


About Rossina

Thought Partner & Corporate Primatologist

Posted on June 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Marvin Karelitz

    For me, one of the best examples of courage in leadership was shown by Abraham Lincoln when he chose to accept the grave risk of civil war and all of the death, destruction, and horror it threatened because not acting to abolish slavery was an even worse option such as ignoring a moral imperative. Simply put, IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.


    • Thank you, Marvin! Yes, excellent example. That is why I included as my definition that courage is also when we act on our values even though the outcome can be unfavorable. It takes courage to stand against the masses. Lincoln’s value of Egalitarianism cost him his life and that of so many others.

  2. I think of many examples of courage that I have been fortunate enough to witness in my own life and other examples that we are all aware of and yes, it is an exceptional virtue. I want to add that I think your list is really well put together and those ten traits are all significant of true leadership. Thank you.

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