To achieve courage, start with discipline…

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”

Thucydides

This quote took some time for me to think through and meditate on the deep meaning behind the words. Clarity came for me when I started at the end and worked my way backwards through the quote. (Begin with the end in mind…) Below is my interpretation of each of these components and then the dictionary definition.

Courage = The ability to stand up for what you believe in, regardless of personal implications. The dictionary definition is: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Self-Respect = The awareness one has for who you are, what you believe in and why you believe what you do. The dictionary definition is: “a proper respect for oneself as a human being.”

Self-Control = That ability and discipline to make decisions that limit the control the outside world and your emotions have over your actions. The dictionary definition is: “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.”

Working my way backwards through these gave me these thoughts. If I want to demonstrate courage in my thinking and actions (which I do) then I must know who I am and what I believe in, i.e., self-respect. To have this degree of self-respect I must have (self)control over my emotions and impulses so that my behaviors are a product of choice, not a reflection of others or the outside world.

So, when thinking through it this way it brings these questions to mind. What are the areas of my life and decision making that need greater discipline and control? How do poor decisions, or lack of decision, lead to lessened self-respect? What is the courage I wish to have and how can I change myself through discipline and self-control? What changes can I make that will reflect outwardly who I am and what I believe?

Heavy stuff for early in the morning but something I found to be both clarifying and thought provoking.

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