What types of courage do you practice?

Today is November 6 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “what types of courage do you practice?” People who navigate the chaos understand the etymology of courage comes from Latin cor meaning “from the heart.” Having heart is often the deciding factor between those who translate their dreams into reality and other who just dream.

In a May 24, 2018 New York Times article "Visionaries With the Courage to Change the World," Kerry Hannon examined courageous individuals and wrote “Call them what you will: change makers, innovators, thought leaders, visionaries. In ways large and small, they fight. They disrupt. They take risks. They push boundaries to change the way we see the world or live in it. Some create new enterprises, while others develop their groundbreaking ideas within an existing one.”

Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man when he declared “courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.” Throughout history, as Hannon noted, the courageous ‘push boundaries to change our world’ and that requires courage.

Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t proclaimed the significance of courage and wrote “When people talk about innovators and leaders, you usually get words like vision and charisma and the one characteristic I am comfortable saying that all remarkable leaders in big business, small business, not-for-profit, military, government and the arts, have to have is courage. These people are driven a cause compelling them to find the courage and take risks and work hard at it. Sometimes the choice is lonely, which is another reason it takes courage. You have to have the courage to do the right thing.”

There are many forms of courage but the four most common are physical, collective, moral, and intellectual. Physical courage is a willingness to push the limits of one’s body; collective courage refers to when one joins or leads other like-minded individuals; moral courage is the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs in the face of overwhelming opposition and intellectual courage is the willingness to come out in favor of an idea that others find ridiculous. Sometimes life calls for one to rely on more than one type of courage. Such was the case for Desmond Thomas Doss.

Doss was a United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for actions in Guam and the Philippines. Doss further distinguished himself in the Battle of Okinawa by saving 75 men, becoming the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the war. His life has been the subject of books, the documentary The Conscientious Objector, and the 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge.

Doss’ religion forbade him from carrying a gun or threatening another human life, which was very inconvenient when he was drafted into the Second World War. So, Doss was a conscientious objector, placed as a non-combatant, and was the target of ridicule from the other soldiers. He was serving as a field medic in Okinawa when the Japanese attacked his unit on top of a cliff, cutting down nearly every man. Doss quickly rigged up a stretcher that could be lowered by a series of ropes and pulleys to the ground below. Then, by himself and under fire, he retrieved each soldier in his unit one at a time and lowered them to safety. President Truman said it was 75 men that Doss pulled to safety when he presented him the Medal of Honor, but Doss insisted it was closer to 50.