Chutzpah has gotten a bad name. Merriam-Webster online describes it as “supreme self-confidence”, which sounds good, but then “nerve, gall”, which does not. Urban Dictionary, in character, calls it “unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall”. Not good press.
Aristotle famously defined courage as the mean between cowardice and foolhardiness, both demarcating its edges and establishing a general principle that virtue is a moderation between extremes.
Pirke Avot, a section of the Jewish Talmud and (I believe) the first self-help book of all time, says: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?”
The first clause offers scope for chutzpah as a virtue, for what else is the elemental stuff of standing for oneself if not chutzpah?
I think we are on safe ground by taking a leaf from Aristotle’s book and defining chutzpah thus:
Chutzpah is the golden mean between self-effacement and shamelessness.
That’s the row I’ll try to hoe this year. Breaking out of self-effacement while steering clear of shamelessness.