Our culture has a tendency to highlight sensational, amazing, miraculous or scandalous acts of courage, such as confessing you were a draft-dodger, confronting a robber with a gun or harming your spouse. The assessment is that if your story is not a headline it can’t be valuable. Not so. I was recently asked  how courage manifests itself in daily living.

Dear Sandra:

There are many times I find myself responding to a discussion topic as if I know something about it when in fact, I don’t. I feel if I reveal my lack of knowledgeable I will be perceived as unintelligent (silly, I know). Other times, I find myself innocently covering up or glossing over an incident instead of confessing. What’s the best plan of action to apply courage?

Dear “The Courage to Confess:”

How many of you reading these columns confess your shortcomings, mishaps or missteps? By confessing, I don’t mean your “sins.” For example, if I am unknowledgeable about a topic (and there are many) or if I have not formulated an opinion about a topic, I respond with, “I confess I am not qualified to respond on that topic.” To confess is itself a mark of courage (based on the original definition of the word, meaning “heart and spirit”) and maturity. Last month (I confess with embarrassment and vulnerability), that when I attended my nieces’ wedding I had forgotten she was my God-child. I confess to you that I didn’t have the courage at the time to confess it!

A popular radio personality named “Sly” confessed to his community that he was addicted to painkillers and alcohol. He was not in trouble with the law, so he could have kept his predicament a secret. He did it because he hopes his openness will help others confront addictions. Putting the truth on the table inoculates you before someone exposes the situation, and it’s not a form of “telling before someone else tells you;” it’s divesting of constraints that hold the spirit down. I find that a rare form of courage. This popular radio host drew from his reservoir of courage and chose an action that validated his internal character.

Confessing is good for the spirit when it’s done in a timely manner and with the right intent. The process helps you face the truth; you take responsibility for what’s happening with your spirit and you clean up those missteps that collect unhealthy energy. What do you need to confess?

Yes, you invite potential trouble when you stand in your courage and confess, but the gift you receive is that you hold yourself 100% accountable for your integrity.

A dear friend who decided to seek a divorce after 26 years of marriage said, “I confess that for all those years I was a fraud. I’ve never been truly happy in my marriage. I was not authentic about my feelings.” Now that’s courage (even though her everyday courage won’t make the media headlines). 

With over twenty years of original research on everyday courage and courageous leadership, I am referred to as The Courage Expert. I confess I’ve never done anything sensational, amazing or scandalous (that I’m aware of!). Confessing is a cousin to courage. Why don’t you try it?

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert. She is a sought after speaker and coach who has found that there is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient. She has written numerous books including COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman, the follow-up book The COURAGE Difference at Work:: A Unique Success Guide for Women and non-gender FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond.