As human beings we have intelligence and courage. Provided we use these qualities, we will be able to achieve what we set out to do. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
To me, it reminds us that we are able to do whatever we set out to do, that we can achieve anything in which we believe. Humans do it through courage and intelligence.
Courage, to face our fears, our opponents and the inevitable hardships associated with doing anything worth doing. Intelligence, to learn from our mistakes, to learn from the mistakes of others, to anticipate possible outcomes and to have plans ready for them. We are, at our best, unstoppable.
Why are both intelligence and courage important?
Intelligence without courage, let’s think about that for a moment, shall we? You could be the brightest person on the planet, be so smart as to know almost everything, so capable at planning that no possibility escapes your preparation. But what good is it if you don’t have the courage to move forward with the plans, to act on your knowledge, do to something in the real world?
Similarly, what good is all the courage in the world without a bit of intelligence? To be brave and bold, acting on whims and vapid notions, what good is that? That kind of action is the reason the words brash and foolish were invented, methinks.
Courage alone might get a little more done than intelligence alone, however it won’t be good for much. Together, they can be an unstoppable combination. For this blog, let’s look at courage and intelligence, and see what can be done to use them to help you achieve your goals.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Let’s start with courage. At thefreedictionary.com, courage is defined as “The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution” That’s a mouth full.
But I think it says what we expected it to say. Courage is the ability to face danger, fear or the up-n-down cycles of life. Courage allows us to do so with full grasp of our faculties, with confidence and a firm resolve. And it is applicable to both the mind and the spirit.
How can we improve this aspect of our life? For me, confidence appears to be the root of courage. The more certain I am of myself, my situation and the probable outcomes, the more confidant I become. How about you? What can you do to improve your courage?
Let’s make a list of three times you can recall feeling courageous. Write them down, then see if there was anything similar between them. If so, what can you do to help the courageous feeling happen more often (that is, what helped you feel courage in these instances)?
If there isn’t any common thread you can see, choose one and brainstorm ideas for how to feel courage more often. Try each of the three and see if you come up with for each. Do you see a pattern now? Even if you don’t see a pattern, you should have a few ideas to try out.
Start with conscious competence and every time you feel less than courageous, try one of the ideas you came up with. After a few tries, you should have some ideas as to which work better than others, and in what situations they apply. Then you can try to make them a habit, so that you can move to unconscious competence, the joyful state of doing without even having to think about it. You will have trained yourself to courage, a noble aim and a worthy goal.
At thefreedictionary.com, intelligence is defined as “The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge” and “The faculty of thought and reason.” Once again, that’s a mouth full. But I think (again) it says what we expected it to say. Intelligence is the ability to acquire knowledge (facts) and apply knowledge (facts). Both, not either/or.
You have to be able to pick up new ideas and facts, yes. But it can’t end there. Computers can pick up facts. Computers (even Deep Blue) are not yet intelligent. One must then take those facts and apply them, along with the old facts and seemingly unrelated facts, to come to new conclusions. That is what is at the core of intelligence.
The second definition says largely the same thing, but in a different manner. Thought and reason. Reason is the ability to think logically, to process the facts (new and old alike). Thought is the ability to form ideas, to go beyond just the facts or to build on seemingly unrelated facts to come to a further conclusion.
How can we improve this aspect of our life? For me, intelligence comes from two places, raw data and contemplation. For raw data, I read. A lot! I also scan the internet for interesting information, mostly based on science. For contemplation, I spend some of my “down time” rummaging through my mind, allowing things to pop to the surface and examining them for a while. Down time could be anything from waiting for a table at a restaurant, waiting in a line, waiting for my wife at the mall, or while driving.
Let’s make a list of three times you can recall feeling intelligent, not just brighter than someone who spoke without thinking, but when you managed an “aha!” moment. When you to put something together in your head, or gathered a fact that was the missing piece.
Look at the list and consider what lead up to that moment. Was there anything in particular activity you were doing, any method or process you were going through to help with this discovery? Some people have favorite things to do, places to be or routines that help get them in the mood. See what you can do to help stack the deck in your favor, to become automatic.
Now that we have got the building blocks in place, it’s time to apply them to a goal, something you want to achieve. Select a goal, perhaps one from a prior post, or even something new.
Now that you have something in mind, put together a plan, and some tactics to back it up (perhaps a new goal was a bit ambitious, eh?). Look at it and see where your courage might be tested. Determine what you will need to boost your courage (is it more information, some additional skills, a mentor or…) and do what is needed. Then determine where you might need more knowledge or have to extrapolate from the facts you know, and get with the intelligence portion of the one-two combo.
Then comes the critical phase – the actual doing. Get busy, it isn’t going to do itself, you know! Here is where the real courage is needed. Things won’t always go according to plan. Tactics will be revealed to be inadequate. Unpleasant facts will rear their heads. Have the courage to continue towards your goal. Then use the intelligence portion to make sure you learn from your mistakes, and gather the data necessary to move forward (or a little bit sideways before going forward).
If you keep moving forward, keep doing, stay courageous and intelligent, figure things out, apply facts and learn from mistakes, there is nothing you cannot do if you keep doing. What are you doing still sitting in front of your computer? Time to get busy!