We all know that to have the courage of your convictions means to hold strong to your personal beliefs despite what others are thinking, saying, or doing. There are countless examples of heroism displayed by people having the courage of their convictions, but what about a person who doesn’t display such courage? Does it mean they are weak? That they “waffle” in the face of disagreement? That they have no conviction? I think we have all seen instances where people who fail to demonstrate the courage of their convictions are perceived negatively, but I offer that in many instances these perceived “wafflers” are in fact the most courageous of all.

It is difficult to acknowledge that one’s conviction may have been based on inaccurate, misrepresented, or no longer valid information. Equally contributory is the fact that our perceptions and vantage points change, giving us reason to see things differently. I am not talking about my seven-year-old son suddenly deciding that he will no longer eat what was his favorite food just yesterday or that the playmate he once “hated” is now his best friend. Recent events in the ongoing healthcare and “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” debates, as well as far less destructive conversations in my personal life, have given me reason to question why I feel so strongly about certain issues. As I reflect and look at given situations from a slightly different angle, I realize that some of my convictions may have been misinformed. Rather than view myself as weak, I choose to thank those who presented things in a different light and constructively shared their views. After further review, it may be those who comfortably default to their trained convictions who may be taking the cowardly way out. We talk of questioning the status quo and that starts with an internal look…

Step 1: Take an inventory of your personal convictions
Step 2: Validate/Change as needed
Step 3: (Re)Commit
Step 4: Repeat at infrequent, but regular intervals

As opposed to firmly believing dissenting opinions are wrong, we need to periodically question our own convictions, others surely will…

  • Why do you feel so strongly about some things?
  • When was the last time you tried to see something from someone else’s perspective?
  • How have your convictions strengthened/changed over time?