Soldiers and leaders of the Army live by seven Army Values, all of which are equally important. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and the seventh value “Personal Courage”. Personal Courage as defined by the Army, is to face fear, danger or adversity. Personal Courage is the ability one has to overcome a difficult task or situation with steadfastness, or in contrast, to do the moral and right thing when given an opportunity to benefit themselves, by hurting someone else. This essay will cover what personal courage means to me in my professional and personal life and how this value has affected me. I find Personal Courage to be less concretely defined, as it is subjective to a person and to a situation. Every soldier has grown up with a different set of values and beliefs which can affect what they find “courageous”. But to me, being courageous professionally is to know what your duty is in relation to yourself, the Army and the people you work with. For instance, soon I will be a second lieutenant. My duty in relation to the Army is to act as a moral compass for the platoon and to lead them to accomplish the mission at hand.
To my soldiers it is to provide them with the training they need to make them successful, the support they need to accomplish the mission, and to ensure they understand what their duty is and what living the army values mean. My duty to myself is to constantly strive to improve my military knowledge and competencies, and to learn my job to the best of my ability so that I am mission-capable as well as my soldiers. To live courageously is also to try new things, ask questions and make mistakes. I will understand that if I don’t make mistakes, then I am remaining in my comfort zone, therefore not improving my abilities to my full potential. I will understand that in my professional and personal life, I will act with personal courage by taking advantage of situations that will make my life more difficult, but ultimately will improve the lives of my soldiers and the outcome of the mission. An example of this is to get less sleep while planning a mission so that my soldiers will have a better plan or more sleep themselves.
Actions like these also tie into the value “selfless service”, which shows that all of the Army values tie into one another. In my 6 years of service, I have encountered situations that have required me to be courageous on some level. To be courageous does not mean you have to be heroic or do something grand, it can be small things. An example I retain, is when I decided to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps two years ago. At the time I had a hard time envisioning myself up in front of a platoon. It took a lot of courage for me to get in front of soldiers for the first time and speak to them with confidence.
The first few times of doing this I was very nervous and somewhat self-conscious. After sticking with it I became more confident in the knowledge I possessed and felt like it was where I was supposed to be, out in front. Much of my life people had told me I was a leader, but I never quite believed it myself. But after striving to be a better leader, and learning on the job as much as I can, I feel ready for my first duty station as a lieutenant. I certainly did not accomplish this all on my own, but it took my own personal courage to overcome the boundaries I was putting on myself, and eventually I did. I believe all people with the right tools are capable of doing the same.