When our toes line up against the yellow line at boot camp, or when we sign the dotted line, committing our lives to the service of something greater than one person–we all began the same way. We all went through the awkward teen phase, we all had fights with our loved ones, made mistakes, fell in love, even gone through trauma.

We all bleed the same color, breathe the same air, stretch the same muscles. The discipline, courage, and honor that’s instilled into our military, police force, and first responders all begins with basic training. Everyday people can be trained to do extraordinary things. They can be lethal, life-changing, and most importantly, life-saving.

Qualities of a Brave Person

The qualities of a brave person fluctuate depending on the person. In fact, the textbook definition can be intentionally vague where all someone needs to do is “possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.” When we think of brave, our minds race to superheroes or someone in a military uniform, not someone like our mom, dad or school teacher. In reality, these people are the only thing standing between us and danger. They are our last line of defense in our day to day lives. We don’t like to think of them as heroes because we do not want to imagine ourselves living in a place where we need them. And that false sense of comfort blinds us from giving credit where credit is due.

Policemen, Firemen, EMT, doctors, nurses, teachers, and anyone else who devotes time to serving others are the true heroes who fail to be recognized not only for their work but also as normal people.

So, how do we take Netflix benders who love long mornings in bed into an everyday hero? Training. If they can choose something challenging and courageous for the greater good, so can you. You can train yourself to thrive under stress and pressure and your reaction to a sudden change in surroundings.

We hear stories all the time from people who have served in the armed forces. Every man and woman we’ve met shares how vividly they can remember the day they received their acceptance letter. Be it to the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, National Guard, and so on. The most common response we hear from these people is fear and panic.

Ordinary People; Extraordinary Fate

They are just regular people. They sleep through their alarms, drive old beat-up cars a little too fast, and have to do taxes just like the rest of us. But they took a chance, made a decision, and have now been faced with a very harsh reality. After filling out paperwork, waiting for a bit of mail, and mostly forgetting about it, they suddenly find themselves forced to put their money where their mouth is. 

Then, they all take time to think. They tell us after they get the letter, after it all sinks in, they do a lot of thinking. Maybe it’s through meditation, through running the hills in the countryside, or maybe they think while hot water runs and steam fills the bathroom. Just like normal people, they had to come to terms with this.

Is this the commitment we have to make?

For some, yes. For some of you who have served, you probably had to think long and hard about what a ten or fifteen-year commitment looks like when you’re in the military while others of you could never imagine that kind of commitment or task requirement. The truth is, we all have the same goal. The civilian, the police officer, the mom, the member of the armed services; we all want to help people.

If we all have the same goal, why aren’t we all brave? Not many people know what it takes to be brave and courageous and to train yourself to be those things even in the worst conditions. Most don’t realize that bravery, for most people like you and me, is more like a muscle and needs to be understood and harnessed and practiced. But once you do practice it, the line between right or wrong, hard or easy, quick or meaningful gets a little easier to see all the time. Hard work, fear, and the unknown scare you a little less. You’re becoming braver.

Uniform Not Required

Moreover, bravery is service and fortitude with or without a uniform. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes from men and women. It comes from the physically strong and weak. Brave people are everywhere and you have the chance to always step up when you see something wrong and be the brave soul who makes a difference. It’s easy to be one of the sheep and stay standing in the crowd–but the brave learn to make a difference.

How to Train Your “Brave” Instincts

Our instincts are constructed around the fight, flight or freeze mechanism within our conscious. In some situations, perhaps we should reevaluate staying and fighting, rather than running. Helping others at the risk of our own lives for the greater good is necessary. If we only think about ourselves, then we live in an empty world without a reason to live. In fact, people are rescued every day by regular people how to recognize that reason to live, and then seek out some professional training. Take lifeguards for example. Lifeguards live part of their lives like everyday teens or college students and save thousands of drowning people each summer.

With a little training, you can conquer your instincts and be ready to step up when necessary. Training won’t make you brave, but it will act as a tool to break free from our flight and freeze instincts and act accordingly. Consider takings courses that cover CPR, First Aid, Choking training, red cross-training, first responder, or ALICE training and have the knowledge in your everyday life in your back pocket in case of emergency. As someone in the armed services, I have taken wilderness emergency first aid, CPR, and child emergency first aid; all which have made a world of difference.

Simply understand that hero’s walk amongst us every day and what makes them hero’s has nothing to do with who they are, but by how they prepare. We live in a dangerous world, which will call more of us to be brave and courageous than in the past. Firearm and edged weapon training can, of course, be helpful, but learning how to respond in an emergency is all the more critical. So don’t be a statistic. Find training that calls out to you, and enables yourself to become the hero you want to protect your family and loved ones.