Wednesday, March 11, 2015


From a TEDtalk
Ricardo Semler: I always come back to variations of the question that my son asked me when he was three. We were sitting in a jacuzzi, and he said, "Dad, why do we exist?" There is no other question. Nobody has any other question. We have variations of this one question, from three onwards. So when you spend time in a company, in a bureaucracy, in an organization and you're saying, boy -- how many people do you know who on their death beds said, boy, I wish I had spent more time at the office? So there's a whole thing of having the courage now -- not in a week, not in two months, not when you find out you have something -- to say, no, what am I doing this for? Stop everything. Let me do something else. And it will be okay, it will be much better than what you're doing, if you're stuck in a process.


I feel very strongly about this word.  In many ways this concept has been the only concept on my mind for years.  I keep coming back to it, keep asking the questions about whether or not I have it.  I keep wondering when it is I will be allowed to act on it.

I was doing some reading about courage in January.  This year, for my year goals, I decided to work on 25 things I wanted to BE, instead of 25 things I wanted to do.  25, because that is how old I am at the moment.

Number One, was Courage.  I want to be courageous.  So I thought of goals that I believed would help me work toward this attribute, and for me courage always seemed about leaving everything you thought you knew and start off on a new adventure so my goal became, "Move across the country."  In my past the only times I had employed courage were in my decisions to travel abroad, so I erroneously assumed that the only way I could be courageous in my present was to leave the known for the unknown and travel to foreign lands.

I can't really blame myself for thinking this way.  Traveling to "foreign lands" certainly made me more confident, and while confidence doesn't necessarily make you more courageous I think its a step in the right direction.  And so I thought, "The more confident I become, due to my experiences with new places, new people, and new cultures, the more able I will become to make courageous decisions."

It didn't work out that way.  I didn't take the courage with me the way I thought I would.  My courageous decisions made me more confident, and I've taken that confidence with me and applied it to many parts of my life.  At risk of expressing just how anxiety-ridden I was BEFORE I made the stupid and courageous decisions to travel abroad, I will say only that, specifics aside I have more confidence in myself, my body, how I dress, how I speak, what I know, who I am, and what I think of myself than I might have on a different life-path.  But all of these things, all of this confidence I've earned (which is still only a modicum of the confidence most men are born with) still hasn't made me more capable of being courageous.  So apparently I had to go back to the drawing board on courage.

While doing my studies about courage, I came upon a some readings that posed courage as the absence of fear.  But I don't think that anyone can truly live devoid of all fear, so I decided courage was performing actions that were absent of fear.  Or in other words, doing something even though you were afraid of it.  For everyone this would look different, obviously.  But for me, I knew exactly what it would look like.  It would look like me quitting my job which has run its course, and spending my days forcing myself to write, and trying to get something published before I go to grad-school in the Fall.  But I don't have the courage to do that, and I realized why.

Courage is not acting in the face of fear.  Courage is acting knowing there's a possibility of regret.  Acting in the name of courage that may become 100% certified stupidity.  That's something to be afraid of.  I know there's the adage, "Well at least you tried!"  But isn't that even more disheartening?  To know you tried, and failed?  
Courage is looking at all that hopelessness and doing it anyway.

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