Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten” [G. K. Chesterton].

Go out there and slay some dragons!

Think back to when you were a child and you had a favorite story book. Do you remember?

It was the one with the smudges, dogged pages, and worn cover.

It was the one you spent hours reading. You were amazed by the illustrations; delighted by the story; emboldened by the hero’s courage. You cheered as the enemies became victims of magical plans.

One of my favorites books was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Mickey Mouse in the title role. I loved the story of a young character, home alone, misusing his power. Sure, it was great fun at first but, as my friend says, “Too much laughing leads to crying!” And before the young apprentice could wreak more havoc or create another army of servant brooms, the sorcerer returns and saves the day.

Once upon a time we believed that all things were possible. That dogs could talk and spiders could spell and a mouse named Mickey could cause brooms to come to life and cows could jump over the moon.

But somewhere along the way we stopped believing in things we couldn’t see. We came to believe that magic and fairy tales were for children. We outgrew the belief that dreams could come true.  And although we were still compelled to fight dragons (as adults we give them different names), we no longer expected to win the battles.

Life can be like that.

The truth is, you still have within yourself the power to storm castles, slay dragons, save the day, and change the course of your life. Magic still exists. The adult-version is called self-confidence and action, belief and positive attitude, determination and courage.

What story will you write today? One where you are banished to the tower in a distant castle? Downtrodden, held hostage by unfulfilled expectations and disappointments? Waiting for a mysterious stranger to come and save you?

Or, one where you grab life by the tail, fight your hardest, slay the dragons, and make dreams come true?

How could your life change if you had the courage to take one step toward your future, instead of putting things on hold, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive?

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales
whose gates are guarded by dragons:
we must fight in order to conquer it.
~Alexandre Dumas

Be willing to go after what you really want. Fight for it. Slay the dragons. Be determined! Realize “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win” [Margaret Thatcher]. Keep fighting . . . victory will be worth it in the end.

Whatever you are, write a good story today!


One of my favorites essays. Originally posted 2/19/10.

Read Full Post »

I came across an article in USA Today entitled, Chasing Dreams of Doggy Stardom. It was an interesting look into what it takes for a dog to make it in Hollywood. And it’s not what you might think!

The focus was on veteran Hollywood trainer Mark Harden, who shared that the type of dog best-suited for on-screen work are those who make the most challenging pets.

“Your obedient King Charles Cavalier, who sits on command and never shreds a shoe, would most likely be best-suited for cuddling, not cutting up on camera.”

Harden stated he gets as many of his dogs as possible from shelters, looking for intelligent animals with “winner” mentalities who have been abandoned for being too spirited and generally unmanageable. They have a relentless tenacity that many two-legged individuals can’t stomach, but works on-screen.

A lot of these dogs wouldn’t work in a lot of people’s homes,” Harden says.

Not that it’s the dog’s fault. But something in their upbringing has made them a failed pet. Every day, they’ve won. They’ve succeeded in barking like crazy when they want, eating dirt when they want, ruining furniture. Whatever their misbehavior, they think they’re successful.

Of course, it ends them up in the pound, but they think they’re winners, and those are the dogs we like to get.”

I don’t know about your life story, but mine has a chapter or two where folks told me I didn’t belong in their house, and abandoned me at the “pound.”

Not one to sit quietly and cuddle on a lap, I was labeled “too much this” or “not enough that.” In my attempt to destroy bad practices, dig-up disrespectful behavior, or “bark” at unethical actions, I was deemed too spirited and unmanageable.

No matter. I would rather be a star than a pet any day.

And just recently I was reminded of how easy it is for leaders to abandon people on their teams who won’t sit quietly and do as they’re told. Instead of making an effort to harness the creative energy and develop potential, they drop the challenging ones off at the pound. (Either literally or figuratively.)

These leaders aren’t looking for stars; they’re looking for lap dogs.

Where are the leaders who are willing to transform pound puppies into valuable jewels and create teams that change the world?

Maybe it’s just too hard.  After all, it takes an investment of consistency, commitment, confidence, patience, and communication to reveal potential and uncover possibility.

It takes a star to recognize a star. And maybe that’s the problem. Many of today’s leaders aren’t stars — they’re so busy cuddling on the laps of their owners they fail to appreciate the star potential in others.

To share Apple’s well-known ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.
The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

If this story were to have a moral it would be this: Even if you find yourself abandoned at the pound, you’re still a winner. Dream the dreams. Take the risk. Live the life!

Whatever you are, be a crazy one — be a star!


[tweetmeme source= ‘deannacstevens’ only_single=false]

Read Full Post »

Late last month, “Jungle” Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, encountered a family of grizzly bears while hiking in Glacier National Park.

You may have seen Jack on The Late Show with David Letterman where he regularly visits and brings along a menagerie of exotic and dangerous animals. Or, perhaps, caught Jack’s appearance on an educational program as he humorously shares the wonders of our planet.  Regardless, Jack lives, breathes, and sleeps animals. They are his passion, his mission.

But stumbling upon a family of wild bears is another matter entirely. Without a script or camera crew, interns or producers, this wasn’t your typical walk in the park. It was survival of the fittest.

One of the 125 pound cubs started charging toward him and a group of hikers, and then, Jack said,  everything happened so fast.

Just like the insurance commercial proclaims, it’s true that life comes at you fast!

Fortunately, Jack was able to fend off the attack with a few well-timed blasts of pepper spray.  The experience shook him up a bit — although he has carried the spray for more than 15 years, it was the first time in his career he ever needed to use the deterrent.

When asked by a reporter for advice he would give to other hikers finding themselves in similar circumstances, Jack replied, “Don’t be afraid. Be prepared.”

Wonderful advice for all of us — whatever our own brand of “angry bear family” looks like. The time to wonder if you’ll be able to handle the unexpected is not at the moment of confrontation — when your life, future, and dreams are on the line.

The time of preparation occurs in the hours, days, weeks, and months when you’re practicing and packing and plodding along.

No lights. No cameras. No cheers or accolades.
Just a relentless pursuit of the goal.

So that when the time comes — and trust me, it will,
when you round the corner on the trail and meet the angry bears,
when life calls upon you to prove your mettle,
you’ll be able to spring into action — instead of recoil in fear.

Don’t wait for tomorrow — the time to prepare is now. Otherwise, as Benjamin Franklin said,

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Whatever you are, be prepared!


Read Full Post »

We had assumed or hoped for today to be so much more than yesterday. Isn’t it strange how we do nothing and expect different outcomes?”  [James I. Dyer]

Who did you think was going to arrive on a white horse, clean up the mess, and save the day?

Did you think your amazing life was going to arrive like a lottery check — with little effort?

That the “Future Fairy” was going to sneak into your room, while you were sleeping last night, and exchange your wearisome reality for something extraordinary?

That a call was coming that would change everything?

Were you hoping that a brightly-wrapped “surprise life” would be waiting at the breakfast table this morning?

Sorry to disappoint.
It doesn’t really work that way.

The days of childish fairy tales and happy endings and magical powers are behind us.  We are no longer banished to our castles, pretending to be powerless, forced to await rescue.

We are in control of us . . . our today . . . our tomorrows . . . our destiny.

We decide the action to take, the road to travel, the adventures to chase, the monsters to chase down.

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence.
Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear.
Perhaps the action you take will be successful,
perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow.
But any action is better than no action at all.”
[Norman Vincent Peale]

When the ugly dragons arrive unexpectedly, with smoke bellowing and eyes glaring, we can allow fear and insecurity and the unknown to paralyze us, or we can march confidently out to engage the adversary in battle.

It’s a mistake to wait until you feel strong, powerful, and courageous to take action.  If you do, you’ll be waiting for a long time. As Mack R. Douglas correctly observed, “Courage follows action.”

Hope for your tomorrow springs from the action you take today. Stop hiding out, wishing for a better tomorrow.

Get up off the sofa. Step out of the routine. Fight some dragons. Make the call. Ask the question. Ask again. Plant some seeds. Show some kindness. Take action. Be courageous!

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask.
Everything you want also wants you.
But you have to take action to get it.”
[Jack Canfield]

Whatever you are, it’s time for action!


~ This is a repeat performance of a favorite post originally written September 17, 2009. I know I could use another “shot in the attitude” and thought you might, too!

Read Full Post »

So many thoughts. So many decisions.

What to say? How to say it? Should it even be said?

Will they listen? What will they think? Will they even care?

Things need to change. The situation could be better —
should be much different.

Who should focus the attention, raise the flag, ignite the conversation?

What is the cost . . . the benefit . . . the use?

Does it even matter?

Well, I don’t know everything, but I do know some things. And, for sure, there is one thing I know to be true: if you want things to change, you have a responsibility to speak up, introduce new ideas, mark out a better path. There is no excuse for allowing uncertainty to silence your voice.

“You may never know what results come of your action,

but if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

~ Mahatma Ghandi

Whatever you are, do something!


Read Full Post »

To achieve anything, you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster” [Stirling Moss].

Sure, it’s safe to stick with what you know.

The parameters are defined. The responses are known. The risk is minimal.

But it takes courage to let go of the good you have in your hands this very minute to grasp for something great.

To make yourself vulnerable to loss in order to live your dream.

To weather the confusion of friends, the silence of loved ones, and the battle raging within your own mind.

Because sometimes — just as you take the leap — the ground shifts, rules change, and true motives are revealed.

Confidence is shaken. Hope is bruised. The value of the goal is questioned.

So what?  All progress involves risk!
“To play it safe is not to play” [Robert Altman].

When circumstances conspire against you, forge ahead. Gather your courage. Battle through the distraction and fear.

Life is not a competition for the cowardly. For those who shrink back in the face of adversity, desiring the glory without the sacrifice.

If, as Erica Jong said, “it takes courage to lead a life.  Any life.”  Why not courageously live the life you have imagined?

Whatever you are, why not dabble on the edge today?


Read Full Post »

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
William James

Did you have the chance to catch any of the Olympics over the weekend?  The opening ceremony, with its grandeur and assembly of representatives the world over, always takes my breath away. To see so many hopes and dreams in one location is awe-inspiring.

When I looked over the sea of individuals who rise early, put in long hours, and work late into the night perfecting techniques and strengthening their resolve, I was inspired.

Late last night I watched the first American receive the first gold medal of the competition.  As Hannah Kearney took her place on the top step to receive the medal for placing first in freestyle skiing, as the United States Flag flew and the national anthem played, I was so proud.

And I was reminded at how often the things we do on a regular basis are bigger than ourselves.

As we chase our dreams and slaughter the giants, we inspire confidence in others.

As we break through the brick walls, and leap over the barriers, we are proving that it can be done.

People are watching as you display resilience and courage, ingenuity, and perseverance. When you laugh in the face of adversity, accept the risk, and blaze your own trail, you become a part of something bigger than yourself — a community that says the work and sacrifice are worth it.

Don’t treat this responsibility lightly. Your life matters — no man is an island. Your success might just be the catalyst that starts a chain reaction of belief that winning a gold medal is possible.

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all” [Leo Rosten].

Whatever you are, realize what you do matters!


Read Full Post »

If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this:

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life
and when it comes,
hold your head high,
look it squarely in eye and say,
‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.'”
~ Ann Landers

What compels us to run away, hide, avoid the facts, sweep it under the rug, and refuse to acknowledge the enormous elephant in the room, as if ignoring the facts somehow dilutes their power?

Stop acting like that!  Fear can only grow with your permission. Troubles don’t disappear because you refuse to look at them.

Be courageous. Put it on the table, shine the light, open the file,
face life head-on.

Analyze the conditions. Research the information. Ponder the options. Craft a solution. The future is in your hands.

“There is much in the world to make us afraid.

There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.

~Frederick W. Cropp

Let today be the day you summon your courage and face your troubles because, as André Gide said,  “there are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”

Whatever you are, be a good one!


Read Full Post »

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house.

The real tests of courage are much quieter.

They are the inner tests,
like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking,
like enduring pain when the room is empty,
like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.
~Charles Swindoll

I’ve been thinking about this quality we call courage.

How, so many times, it is developed during those quiet times when we are alone. As we  think through the issues, ponder the facts, determine a course of action, and then implement those plans that support our dreams.

How courage is up to us, as individuals. To move forward, despite the fear and criticism that bombards our minds.

I was sitting in a café with a friend recently, enjoying a delightful conversation about our work (his life as a  cinematographer, mine as a writer) when a stranger interrupted our conversation.

This woman proceeded to tell us that she couldn’t help but overhear us. She was interested to know about our professions, asking us all sorts of questions. Then she proceeded to tell us that she had a wonderful idea for a children’s book but simply couldn’t move forward with it. “I don’t know why, perhaps it is a fear of failure,” she said.

Obviously, this woman wasn’t intimidated to approach two complete strangers and begin asking questions. But for some reason, when it came to moving her dream along, she was paralyzed.

My advice for this author would be to spend some time quietly developing the courage to live her dream. To work it out in her heart and mind, so she is able to create her own doors of opportunity and confidently walk through them.

Aesop said that it was easy to be brave from a distance. My response is,
“but who wants to live life from a distance?”

The real fun comes from taking a flying leap into your life, facing the risks and adventures head on, and enjoying the journey (both the good and the not-so-good parts).

Courage is not the absence of fear. “Courage is never letting your actions be influenced by your fears” [Arthur Koestler].

Whatever you are, be willing to act in spite of fear!


Read Full Post »

The fearless are merely fearless.
People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave” [Unknown].

A new year brings with it advice from all types of folks on how to improve your life, your finances, your health, your relationships, your year.

Magazines are jammed to the covers with ideas and tips and suggestions and mandates by celebrities, well-known authors, financial coaches, parents, gurus, everyone and anyone.

So, it’s little wonder that I found a multi-page spread entitled, “16 Healthy Tips for Feeling Better in 2010” by Dr. Oz in the USA Weekend insert of my Sunday paper this past weekend.  Tucked among  the typical advice of ditch extreme diets, throw out your scale, take control of your health, and skip a shampoo, one tip caught my eye:

Be Fearless.

Dr. Oz didn’t suggest that readers try to be courageous. That we work on developing fearlessness. Or that we hunt down and banish fear from our lives.

He simply said, BE.

The new year allows you to challenge the invisible assumptions that can stall progress and meaningful change.

Remember, the goldfish doesn’t know that there’s a world beyond the bowl until he is lifted out.

Similarly, you can’t appreciate the limitations of your current life until you have challenged and moved past them.

No matter when you start making changes, remind yourself that New Year’s resolutions are not wind sprints — they are marathons.

Be persistent and keep going. Are you ready to take the first step?

There’s no better time than now [Oz].”

Are you ready to be courageous?  Isn’t it time to stand up to the circumstances, look fear in the eye and Just Be Fearless?

“Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” [Ambrose Redmoon].

It is liberating to realize that regardless of the circumstances, you have within yourself the ability to be fearless.  You are fearless today because you choose to be.

Whatever you are, choose to BE!


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »