Depicts the premier virtue that enables us to persevere despite fear, danger, or adversity. Personal Courage includes the notion of taking responsibility for decisions and actions. Additionally, it involves the ability to perform critical self-assessment, to confront new ideas, and to change.
The Value in Action
On July 29, 2006, an Australian woman, Kimberley Dear, was to have made her first skydive in the United States. But when engine failure caused the plane to plummet to the ground minutes after take-off, Robert Cook (Missouri S&T 2007), her instructor, clipped his skydive harness to hers and demanded she use his body as a human shield. He was killed on impact.
The 22-year-old Cook, a skydiving fanatic and civil engineering student at the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla), had clocked 1,727 jumps and earned every possible United States Parachute Association certificate.
In the mere seconds it took for the plane to fall, Cook turned to Dear and told her to focus on his instructions. He clipped his harness to hers and told her to brace herself using his body to cushion the fall. Cook then whispered words of comfort to her and was a voice of calm as the Twin Otter aircraft crashed just minutes after take-off from the Sullivan airstrip near St Louis, Missouri.
His actions saved her life but cost him his own. Cook, the pilot and four other passengers were killed in the crash. Dear survived the crash but suffered spinal injuries, a broken pelvis, and other injuries.“There aren’t many people who would put their life on the line for a stranger — you might do it for the people you love but would you do it for someone you just met?” Dear told reporters in 2006 about Cook’s heroic efforts.“He was an amazing person and he was going to go on to do amazing things himself but now he can’t,” she said. “I am 100% certain he could have taken measures to save his own life but he didn’t. He saved mine.”
On March 17, 2008, Cook was awarded posthumously the Star of Courage — Australia’s second-highest honor, which recognizes actions of bravery in peacetime.
Dear told reporters she was thrilled Cook was being recognized. Dear’s father says Cook’s parents will be happy their son’s bravery is being recognized.
“Nothing can compensate for losing a child, but to know that everybody knows the kind of person that he was, certainly gives some comfort and some sense of connection to their son,” he told reporters.
One man with courage makes a majority.Andrew Jackson
The Take Away
Demonstrate the courage of your convictions.
Personal Courage does not mean the absence of fear; rather, it refers to the ability to overcome fear and do what is right and honorable. Situations requiring a person to overcome his fear may vary from person to person. For some, confronting a brother about violating a rule, policy, or expectation may require summoning great courage. For someone else, it might be getting up and speaking in front of the chapter when running for office. No matter, Leaders of Character acknowledge and overcome their fears, and, in doing so, demonstrate the Core Value of Personal Courage.
Courage comes in two forms: physical courage and moral courage. Situations requiring physical courage, that is overcoming fears of bodily harm, are rare, but they do exist, especially in emergencies. This is the bravery that allows you to help a fellow brother out of danger. Moral courage, on the other hand, is the commitment to stand firm on matters of principle and conviction. Leaders who accept responsibility for their decisions and actions, even when things go wrong, demonstrate moral courage.
When you understand the dual challenges of courage, and you internalize the Core Value of Personal Courage, you have completed your Core Values foundation. What remains is to put the Core Values into practice, day to day, to become a Leader of Character, and to earn the right to be called a TRUE Brother in Lambda Chi Alpha.