You can teach them right from wrong. You can teach them about the importance of honesty and of caring about other people. You can teach them to be self-disciplined, to honor commitments, to work hard. You can teach them to love to learn, to take their education into their own hands. You can teach them to be independent and resourceful. You can teach them how to make decisions.
But none of it matters if they don’t have one thing: courage. They could be the most talented, kindest, smartest kid in the world…but if they aren’t brave enough to do anything with it? To put themselves out there with it? To be OK being different or weird or criticized for it? It won’t mean anything.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Which is why my four-book series of the four Stoic virtues (courage, temperance, justice, wisdom) starts with Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors The Brave. We see it again and again in the lives of the greats throughout history: courage is the backbone of greatness and goodness. You can’t do the right thing without courage. You can’t acquire wisdom without courage. You can’t be self-disciplined in a world of excess and temptation without courage.
All the things you want to raise them to be—they won’t, they can’t, be any of them without courage.