People have frequently asked me, “Is courage the same as empowerment and bravery?” I don’t think so. Here is how I believe these vitally important concepts are distinctly different.

Courage is an internal process. It occurs when you make a conscious decision to tap into and use your inner “reservoir” of heart, which you might not have even realized you have.

Courage manifests itself when a person embarks on a journey that is in line with their “heart and spirit.” In fact, heart and spirit is the root of the word courage. Tapping into your courage enables you to stand in your true Self — your solid core. A courageous person’s leadership style exemplifies their ability to “lead self.” This is where you display your understanding of courage consciousness such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. They acted according to their convictions despite opposition or attractive opportunities that would betray their true nature.

Simple everyday courage can be a powerful force for positive change, and it’s available to everyone because it’s your birthright. It’s what gives you permission to finally ask for a raise, confess that you hired the wrong person or spot, and act to the first red flags.

Empowerment is a feeling, a quiet dignity and belief that every individual has value and a determination to base one’s life actions on that belief. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi demonstrate empowerment, as does contemporary activist Shannon Galpin (Mountain to Mountain) who empowered women in Afghanistan to ride bicycles when it was forbidden. Empowered individuals move societies forward. Empowerment can result when someone else bestows responsibility or faith in us. Empowerment can also be the mental outcome of a brave act. One feels empowered.

Bravery is action. It is most often thought of as an impulsive act to protect others at one’s own expense, in the face of an imminent threat or danger. It carries a sense of physical threat and is usually accompanied by adrenaline-activated feats, commonly referred to as “heroism.” Our culture tends to focus on bravery since it hovers around physical courage. Physical courage is one of many facets of courage such as spiritual courage, leadership courage or moral/ethical courage.

About the Author: Global speaker Sandra Ford Walston, known as The Courage Expert is a human potential consultant who studies courage. Sandra is an international speaker and author, corporate trainer and behavioral coach. Sandra’s expertise allows her to focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition through recognizing and interpreting courage behaviors and courageous leadership styles. Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra also provides skills-based programs for some of the most respected public and private blue-chip businesses and organizations in the world, such as IBM, Caterpillar, Inc., Institute of Internal Auditors, Hensel Phelps, Wide Open West, Agrium, Inc., Virginia Commonwealth University, Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, Procter and Gamble, Hitachi Consulting, US Bank, Healthcare Association of New York State, Institute of Management Accountants, and Delta Kappa Gamma International Society. The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman and an honored author selected for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups to discover the power and inspiration of their everyday courage. The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women, Sandra’s follow-up book to COURAGE, is directed at any woman, regardless of title or credentials, who wishes to grow professionally by introducing courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond confirms that what holds you back on the job is the same as what hinders achievement—the reluctance to face and live a courageous life. Sandra is published in magazines such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development, Accelerate (Malaysia), Real Simple, Maria Shiver Blog, and Strategic Finance. Sandra is a certified coach and certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Enneagram. She also instructs at the University of Denver. She can be reached at sandra@sandrawalston.com or www.sandrawalston.com to sign up for her free monthly courage newsletter and where she posts a courage blog.