Courage

Courage

In the LDS culture, there is the story of Samuel, a prophet. He warns the city of Zarahemla that it is going to be destroyed. He brings this message to the people at great peril to himself. In this picture, the city army has assembled and is going after him as he stands on the wall sharing his message, escaping before he could be captured. He shows courage. I think courage is the ability for a person to face their fears knowing there is risk to them self.

It is uncommon for me to share a story reference to the LDS faith here on my website. In fact, I think this is the first time I have done it. In the past I mentioned some of my honest and open secrets, one of which was my uncertainty that my LDS upbringing was a match to what reality actually is. I continue to examine all aspects of reality, including the LDS faith. This questioning has been a test of my courage and I think the story of Samuel has a great parallel.

When I sit down and talk to Heidi (my wife) and share with her my feelings that I’m not sure what is true and real, I know it is a risk. She’s a very religious person. In a way, I think it’s almost a roll of the dice to openly share my questions about religion, life, and the universe. My family could disown me. My wife could leave me. The LDS church ward here could excommunicate me. After all, because I am open to all reasonable debates, I spend time investigating areas that might not be considered appropriate by strict LDS standards.

Do I Have Courage?

I’m sitting here at 11:00 PM examining myself and seeing if I really have courage. In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. I’ll first explain the ways I have courage and what I did to get there. Having the courage to face the fears in certain areas has made me a better man – a better husband, father, and contributor to society.

Courage To Speak

I now enjoy speaking in front of groups of people, but it was not always so. I’ve shared the story of how I left science class in the 9th grade due to having a panic attack while reading in front of the class. Another time at church when I was age 14, I somehow ended up alone in a room with a girl I liked. I remember vividly freezing up like a Popsicle not knowing which way was up or down. As she left the room, probably boggled at what was wrong with me, I remember distinctly wishing I could just find a hole to crawl into and cry.

I had a very real fear of reading or speaking in front of people for most of my child/young adult life. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that this fear began to subside. I feel robbed of experiences from my younger life due to social anxiety, so I am definitely an advocate for people of all ages (especially youngsters) who have a fear of speaking in front of others. I know how hard it can be, but I know it can be overcome.

How I overcame my fear of speaking. To be honest, it all started when I realized I wanted to get more out of life. It all comes down to the moment I had in early 2008 playing a computer game, World of Warcraft. I realized I was wasting my time and that there was so much around me where I could utilize my talents to help others and have an enriched life. It was the epiphany at this time of my life – having just turned 30, that turned the light on. Somehow I had an epiphany moment and began to get curious about life, who I was, and what I was capable of doing. I adopted a new philosophy to begin exploring who I am and what I could accomplish.

Why the epiphany came is a mystery to me. Maybe it was who I was all along – I just don’t know. Because I became curious about my life I had a strong desire to explore who I was and what I could accomplish. This is now my core philosophy. Because that is my core philosophy, all of a sudden, it’s no longer a frightening experience to speak to other people. In fact, I look at it as a requirement to fulfill my core philosophy, so it is an honor and opportunity for me to interact with others. It really is that core philosophy shift that took my fear away.

For those of you struggling to speak in front of others, or in front of groups, examine your core philosophy. Are you curious about yourself and what you might be able to accomplish? Is it more important for you to learn and understand from others than it is to be comfortable? Is it more of a privilege to teach and interact with others than the fear provides? Lastly, start talking and seeking after speaking opportunities. You’ll probably be terrible at first and that’s ok! Just be enthusiastic and have a good attitude. This will carry you through and you will get better with practice and time.

Courage To Question

As a youngster in school and going to church, I remember believing everything my teachers and parents taught me. I just didn’t question it. After all, these people were there to guide and help me, so why should I question it? Later on in life, it has dawned on me that in order to fully experience life, I must question all of my assumptions and be open to any possibility. Here’s why.

It is possible that when I die, my brain will shut off and I will cease to exist. It is possible. Whether or not it is true is up for debate. It could be that when I die, I’ll be taken to a magical castle where fairy dragons prance around in the sky creating cupcakes out of clouds with sprinkles from magic rainbows. I do like a good cupcake and that would be an acceptable possibility.

Or it could be that there is a real judgment awaiting me after this life where I will be grilled for the works I produced while on planet earth. Every detail of my life could be brought to life and scrutinized by an almighty God. That’s another possibility.

By questioning all possibilities, I live my life as an explorer. I have my core philosophy – get the most out of this life that I can and try to live forever. I take this core philosophy and explore and weight it against the different possibilities that this life could really be. It creates a sense of wonder and awe not knowing exactly what will happen, but preparing myself the best I can and I believe that makes for a rich and rewarding life.

Courage To Try

The courage to try and succeed and make a difference is a new discovery for me as well. I’m in the process of writing an exciting fiction/fantasy novel and it is almost done being edited. I’m also involved in many different website projects. I’m really trying to add value to the world I live in. This is despite some key possibilities. Let me explain.

It could be that the marketplace is just too controlled for me to make an impact. It could be that I’ll never have a good idea that catches on, despite my best efforts to evangelize it. It could be that I’ll spend thousands of hours creating books and websites that only a few people use. It could be that 20 years form now, I’m no better off than I am now despite having worked my hind end off to produce something of value.

I am afraid of trying hard and not having much to show for it, so taking effort each day is a direct confrontation against this fear. I suppose I feel that I will become a much better person through my efforts of persistence if nothing else.

What I Lack Courage In

I admit it publicly, “I am a coward.” There are certain areas that I simply avoid due to fears of what might happen in a negative way. This ranges from avoiding confrontation to shying away from being a real leader. I’ll explain why I’m a coward now.

Courage To Set Expectations

I have a fear of setting expectations. I think the fear stems from not being able to control the outcome if I set expectations of others. It’s easy to set an expectation for myself. I set a goal, and I can go for it. If I don’t make it, I have only myself to blame. However, if I set an expectation for a team and they don’t perform, I’d view myself as a terrible leader and might realize I’m not cut out to lead.

This would be a blow to my morale. I feel I have the talent to lead, guide, and direct. But if I set expectations and they are not met, I might come to the realization that I don’t have what it takes to do this. Because I’m scared of this, I am pretty loose in my expectations. As a leader at the company I work for in my day job, I’m hesitant to challenge the team I’m on due to fear of being rejected or them not meeting the expectations.

I’m not sure internally if I’m ready to start setting expectations for teams at work or my family. I feel that there is so much I don’t know that it would be unreasonable to set an expectation. After all, who knows if my expectation is really worthwhile or the right thing to do? Still, I believe this is an area I can be more courageous in, even if I am uncomfortable doing it.

Courage To Take Charge

For me, it’s much easier to let other people handle situations. Especially if it’s a situation I feel is uncomfortable. At work, if things are not progressing how I would like, it’s much easier to just try and work harder to make up for it. I’d rather make up the difference than sit down with a team and tell them to step it up.

After all, if I sit them down and tell them to step it up, I could be wrong. They could be performing well in their eyes and be right and then I’d look like a fool. Or I may offend and anger the people I’m telling to step up and lose trust. It’s risky in my eyes to take charge like that because I’m afraid of people getting angry at me…

Still, I feel inside of me that I can improve in this area. If I can find a way to take charge and inspire others and not be worried about a negative result, I believe I can make progress here. It’s kind of like how I became comfortable speaking in public. I became very enthusiastic and realized I had to do it to become who I wanted to be. Taking charge will help me move to the next level so I must learn to do it naturally and be enthusiastic about it.

Courage To Confront Others

Since my earliest years I’ve been afraid of confrontation. I think I’m afraid of harm coming to others or seeing people act so unreasonable that it leads to violence. My biggest fear is the peace and calm I have in my life getting disrupted. So I will avoid confrontations even if there is a person I know is doing something wrong or under-performing. It’s just easier to work harder myself and not bother with it.

I’m challenged here because I know that being open and honest and communicating with others my intent and desire for them is essential to my continued growth. If I can’t find a way to confront another person who I believe can do better or is out of line, I’ll never become the person I want to be who is able to lead, guide, and direct. I don’t have to micromanage individual people – but I do need to have the courage to confront others, share my intentions, and have a discussion.

Conclusion

At the beginning, I shared the brief LDS story of Samuel the Lamanite. His courage to share expectations and confront others is a good example for me to follow. In the end, he was nearly killed by the army in the city. I must be careful of coming off as a fanatic or disillusioned. It will do no good for me to have courage confronting others if I don’t first have complete confidence in my leadership and knowledge.

I am a coward when it comes to leading, confronting others, and setting expectations. I’m willing to talk to people and speak in front of groups, and even volunteer for responsibilities. But I presently lack in the areas of confrontation and expectation. I don’t yet have a solution to solve this problem, but knowing and acknowledging it is a start :)

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