Bravery VS Courage: 6 Types Of Courage To Know

Leadership is about the courage to inspire others to be more, do more, learn more and dream more. Leadership is about legacy.

My mission is to inspire as many people across the globe to have more courage in leadership roles and lives. Have you ever wanted to be courageous? You may think that only some people have courage, but the truth is, anyone can. So, let’s show them what we’re made of! Let’s talk Bravery VS Courage!

Courage and bravery are two words that you hear a lot. Both describe people who face their fears to do something that may be heroic, dangerous or difficult but necessary.

For most of us, we see someone brave as also having courage, and vice-versa. But are courage and bravery the same thing? Not exactly.

So what exactly are the differences between being brave vs courage? Let’s take a closer look at each term and identify where their differences lie.

I’ll also talk about the six types of courage you might encounter in your life and the workplace, with examples, and how you can exercise each.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

What is Courage?

First, let’s define what courage means.

Chances are you’ve heard the word ‘courage’ numerous times in your life, and you’ve probably also called someone courageous at one point or another.

People, who are known to be courageous, are admired for their bravery and strength of heart. But, despite the general perception of courage, it is quite different from bravery.

Are you wondering what is courage definition exactly? According to Merriam-Webster, it is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

It’s also a willingness to confront risk and uncertainty and involves perseverance and determination. Courage may also include being bold, unafraid and strong in the face of evil. It can be found in many different places.

An example of courage can be any of the following:

●     A soldier confronting an enemy on the battlefield

●     A woman who speaks out against sexual harassment at work

●     A man who confronts his abusive father about his drinking problem

●     A person standing up for what they believe in at work

●     A person speaking out against injustice when everyone else turns a blind eye

●     A person who publicly supports an unpopular political candidate

●     Someone who takes out their phone to record police brutality

Want to find out how to become more courageous? Take the first step today and check out my book, First Comes Courage.

Below is an excerpt:

Earlier in my life and my fledgling leadership career, I was more attached to safety and a level of certainty, to be honest. Aren’t we all to some degree? Isn’t the goal of most people to settle, supported by certainty, and avoid difficulties where possible? It’s just in us as humans. But nerve is not truly courage until it is tested.

It wasn’t until I packed up my safe life here in Australia and moved overseas to China in my early 30s, with my then three-year-old daughter Abby and my husband, that I learned what true courage was. It was supposed to be an exciting time in our shared lives, a time with new beginnings, new adventures and new discoveries. In reality, it turned out to be completely the opposite.

I knew the transition for my daughter and me would be challenging. We had to assimilate into a new culture, meet new people and develop a new support base. However, it was much tougher and far more confronting than I had expected, even in my worst-case scenario.

After landing a dream role there in a senior position in a leading organisation, and trying my best to settle my little girl into a new kindergarten, my life fell apart. It was so unexpected, and hit me like a lightning bolt out of the clear blue sky.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, the day that changed my life. My husband decided to abandon my baby girl and me in Shanghai. He just left. No worthwhile explanation. No warning. No apology. Nothing.


What Is Bravery?

While courage is often associated with bravery, they’re not the same thing!

The dictionary defines bravery as “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Bravery is the ability to face fear and danger without flinching, which can be used in the workplace or outside.

The world needs more brave people! Bravery is often the difference between success and failure.

It’s why great courageous leaders can make significant changes in the world. It takes bravery to take risks, take chances, and move forward when you don’t know what will happen next.

Here are a few examples of bravery:

●     Someone who does what needs to be done even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way (like going into a burning building).

●     Going through a difficult time at work but not letting it show on your face or affect your daily interactions with coworkers or clients.

●     Taking on tasks that others are scared of doing because you know it’s essential for your company to succeed.

What is the difference between Courage and Bravery?

Chances are you are still wondering, “is courage and bravery the same thing?” So, let’s look at the difference between courage and bravery.

Bravery means having the guts to do what needs to be done, even if it means taking risks or facing danger head-on.

Courage means having the strength of character required for such actions by acting confidently even when faced with adversity or uncertainty (or both!).

Bravery is commonly confused with courage because the two are regarded as synonymous.

But, in reality, bravery vs courage are different concepts – Bravery is action, and courage is endurance.

Bravery can be easily attained in the heat of a moment. But taking a stand and holding onto courage throughout the test of time requires you to do some serious soul-searching.

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour” – Aristotle.


6 Types Of Courage and their Examples

While most people certainly have a more dominant type of courage, other ones can be developed with some perseverance.

Here are the 6 different types of courage and examples of each.

So, let’s get into it…

1.  Physical Courage

Physical courage is the most common thing that comes to mind when most people think about courage. Perhaps, it is the only type of courage you are even aware of! 

So, what is physical courage? It is the ability to face danger, pain and fear. It’s seen in people who have received injuries while trying to save someone else or those who have been through trauma that has left them with lasting physical scars.

Physical courage can also be seen in people who face their fears, like skydivers or firefighters, despite the possibility of getting hurt.

While this type of courage may seem like it requires physical strength – sometimes it just requires mental and emotional strength.

Physical courage can describe any situation where you’re willing to put yourself in harm’s way to help someone else.

For example, facing a situation threatening your safety or life for the greater good while putting yourself at risk for someone else’s benefit without letting your emotions control you. Such as taking on an attacker threatening your friend or a total strange

You don’t need to be a super-strong man to have physical courage. Many women also exhibit this trait!

2.  Emotional Courage

Emotional courage is a quality associated with the best leaders and most inspiring humans.

It is the ability to deal with your emotions in a productive and healthy way rather than a destructive one. It also means you have the strength to face your emotions head-on rather than running away from them or ignoring them.

Emotional courage also allows people to face their fears and overcome them, no matter how terrifying they may be. It can be used in many situations, such as: 

You feel frustrated because your manager keeps giving you extra work without offering any support or recognition. Still, when you raise this issue with your manager, they say it’s not true and make you feel guilty for complaining about their actions. This situation requires emotional courage so that you can express yourself clearly and assertively without feeling defensive or guilty about being upset about something unfair happening at work.

An example of emotional courage in your personal life may be that you’re going through a difficult breakup and feeling a lot of hurt and sadness. Or perhaps you’ve just experienced a sudden and devastating loss from the death of a loved one.

Instead of taking time off work and isolating yourself from others (which might help you avoid some of your feelings and pain), stay at work and keep up with your responsibilities. It also ensures you’re still taking care of yourself (eating well, getting enough sleep) and looking after other people you are responsible for.

3.  Intellectual Courage

Intellectual courage is an essential quality for leaders because it enables them to lead with confidence and conviction, regardless of whether their ideas are accepted by others.

It is an ability to see beyond the status quo and ask questions that might seem absurd or dangerous without fear of what others will think of them.

Intellectual courage is often displayed by people who are willing to:

●     Speak up in meetings even when they’re not sure everyone agrees with them.

●     To challenge ideas, even from management.

●     Share their opinions even if they aren’t popular among their peers or superiors.

●     Ask questions that may seem ridiculous at first glance (but actually reveal some truth).

Furthermore, intellectual courage is all about making decisions based on what makes sense intellectually rather than what’s easiest or most comfortable.

‘You can be strong as a leader and be kind.

You can be courageous as a leader and be fearful.

You can be a leader without the title.

But first comes courage.’

Sonia McDonald

4.  Social Courage

Social Courage is the ability to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, even in the face of opposition from others. We all have it within us—but sometimes it’s hard to find.

If we’re honest with ourselves, I bet most of us can think of a time when we didn’t have the courage to do something we knew would make a difference.

Maybe it was a coworker being treated unfairly by a colleague or manager, or perhaps it was something bigger—like raising money for charity or fighting for equal rights in your community.

Say you’re in a meeting, and someone is talking over you. In your head, you know that they are wrong and will benefit from hearing what you have to say, but because it makes you uncomfortable to stand up for yourself, you let it go.

This is social courage. It takes strength to stand up for yourself or others when doing so feels risky. This level of bravery isn’t easy, but it can be developed over time.

5.  Moral Courage

Moral courage definition is the ability to do what is morally and ethically right, even when it might be unpopular or risky. It’s about having the guts to stand up for your beliefs and values in the face of adversity, even when no one else does.

It’s about doing what feels right in your heart instead of settling for an easier option because it feels safer or more familiar.

Whether that means telling off a friend who’s made a bad decision or reporting wrongdoing at work.

William Slim, a former Governor-General of Australia, said, “moral courage is higher and a rarer virtue than physical courage.”

I agree with him 100%. But unfortunately, it is rare to find people who always stand up for their morals, especially when it goes against the grain of society or the business world.

An example of moral courage can include:

●     Speaking out against injustices even when no one else does.

●     Taking action when you know it will cost you personally can help others.

●     Standing up for your beliefs in the face of criticism from peers, family, and friends.

6.  Spiritual Courage

Spiritual courage is the willingness to look at your soul and make difficult choices. It’s a willingness to risk what you think you know to learn more about yourself.

Perhaps you may not be very spiritual or even believe in this type of courage.

However, it is an essential type of courage if you want to overcome personal fears and limiting beliefs.

Spiritual courage is not just something we need in our personal lives—it’s also something we need at work. This type of courage is standing up for what you believe, saying no when everyone else says yes, and being willing to pay the price for doing so.

And it lets us know when it’s time to leave a job or situation because it’s no longer right for us—and that’s OK!

It’s not always easy to be spiritual. Sometimes it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are lots of ways to get through those tough times. Here are some examples:

●     Keep journals about your journey and use them as a resource when you need help

●     Find support from friends or family members who understand where you’re coming from

●     Take time for yourself by meditating or reading a book in your favourite spot

●     Learn how to be present by taking deep breaths throughout the day

So next time someone tries to tell you what your limitations are as a woman, remember: You don’t have any!

How does someone show courage?

Courageous people are often called heroes because they do what others would not dare to do—even at significant personal risk.

But what makes someone courageous? Courage is about facing your fears, pain, or danger. Courage is being scared of something but doing it anyway.

Courage is taking control of your life instead of letting other people or circumstances control you.

The best way to show courage is to stand up for yourself and your values, even when you’re scared. Courage isn’t always about charging into battle—it’s about taking a stand for what you believe in, even if it’s hard.

Want to make an impact and inspire great leadership at your organisation?

Book Sonia as a keynote speaker for your next conference, workshop, or event and experience more than just motivation and inspiration. Her expertise covers courage, leadership, culture, neuroscience, women empowerment, and compassion, and she will fully customise the keynote to suit your audience or organisation.


The differences between bravery and courage can be subtle. Bravery is often associated with strength and fearlessness. At the same time, courage usually means facing your fears and standing up for what’s right.

If you want to be more courageous, start by looking at yourself honestly—what are your fears? What are your strengths? How do those two things align or conflict? I love the Fear Setting talk and work by Tim Ferris.

Check out my FREE Fear Mastery Worksheet too!

When faced with difficult situations in the future, remember that there are many types of courage: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, moral, and spiritual.

Take stock of what type(s) of courage might help you overcome whatever challenge you are facing before taking action!

Courage isn’t something that can be learned overnight—it takes time, practice, and dedication. However, if you’re willing to do the work, you’ll become more courageous with each passing day.

New York Times Bestseller Ryan Holiday, author of Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave, feels courage as he breaks down and examines elements of fear, cowardice, bravery and heroism, while showing how to conquer your fears and practice courage in your day to day life.

Are you looking to develop more courage in your life? My coaching can help to bring out your inner courage and help to build your leadership potential. So if you’re ready to start your journey to success and empower the change you want to see, let’s get started!

Ready to embrace your leadership and legacy?