There is a time in the life of every successful person when he or she has to make a courageous decision, a time when they chose to stand instead of flee, or speak instead of remaining silent, or take action instead of being passive. It is quite likely that they made that decision many times as they are moving toward their goal. Like you and I, they were often frightened at those moments, but chose to move forward despite their fear. They chose to allow that little spark of courage to support them at that moment and move them forward toward success.
So what do we do when we face those moments that require that little spark of courage? How do we break through fear and accomplish our goals. Perhaps we can learn from the stories of those who have had to find that spark in their own lives.
Recently I heard Angie Bastian of Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP (Formerly Angie’s Kettle Corn) tell the story of their rise from a husband and wife selling popcorn at local sporting events to a national company with over 200 employees. She recounts that there was a point when they had maxed out their line of credit from the local banks. At the same time, they were on the cusp of closing a major deal with a national retailer that would require a sizeable investment in equipment and staff. Even so, the local banks wouldn’t increase their credit. Angie knew that this was a crucial moment in their growth, so she took a chance and called American Express. To her surprise they loaned her the funds she needed to expand. During this make or break moment in the life of her company, Angie had the belief in herself and her team that gave her the courage to risk everything!
Lesson: You know more about your own abilities and the value you bring to the marketplace than anyone else. Use that belief to give you the courage to take a chance on yourself.
Lauren Luke (YouTube Make-up Entrepreneur, Panacea81) was booking fares for a taxi company but realized that the job wasn’t taking her anywhere. Although she felt that she didn’t have the “look” of a model, she decided to start doing make-up tutorials on YouTube anyway. Her channel now has over 500,000 subscribers; she has her own cosmetic line and has written a book, Looks by Lauren Luke.
Lesson: Do you really have that much to lose? Is your job so great or the penalties of failure really so big that you shouldn’t take a chance?
When he had the opportunity to do a television show, Dr. Phil was concerned about the risks of moving his family to California. In retrospect he says, “Robin and my two sons, Jay and Jordan, never saw ourselves living in Hollywood. Looking back, it isn’t even a close call. I’m eight years into the Dr. Phil show, and we’re renewed through 2014. My marriage is better than ever. Our oldest son, Jay, has graduated from law school with an exciting career in television and Jordan is a senior at USC, beginning a promising career in music.”
Lesson: Don’t focus so much on what could go wrong. Allow your dreams of a better future to give you courage.
As a founder of PayPal, Elon Musk was well respected within the internet community. So when he decided to start another venture, most expected it to be in that industry. Instead, Musk defied convention and started both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, two very diverse and innovative startups. While it looked at one point like both companies would tank, they are now thriving and groundbreaking technology leaders.
Lesson: Observe the masses and do the opposite. If you want the comfort of being like everyone else, you will live in mediocrity.
So if you want to find success in your work or your avocations, you must find that spark of courage that will take you past your fears and the curse of the average. Let us remember these famous words of President Theodore Roosevelt:
The Man in the Arena
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
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