What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk?
Courage is defined by dictionary.com as “–noun 1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. 2. Obsolete. the heart as the source of emotion. 3. have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, esp. in spite of criticism.” When I looked up courage in the dictionary I was expecting to see a picture of John Wayne, Barack Obama, or Rosa Parks. A photo encapsulating all that is courage. Maybe when you think of courage you picture a mountain climber cresting the peak, a firefighter with soot all over her face and a clean outline of where her re-breather would have been, or maybe you see the silhouette of a solider walking a dusty desert road at sunset? There are many different examples or images we typically associate with courage. Whatever picture comes to your mind when you think of courage, I’ve had two opportunities this week to see courage in my friends in distinct and inspiring ways. These are two examples I would have never put on my example of courage radar. They have moved me, encouraged me, and inspired me. Considering the name of this blog is ‘Living Your Dreams – a journey in courage and triumph’ I thought it only apropos to include these two different stories of courage in dramatically different ways.
Imagine living your whole life afraid. Afraid of what ifs, maybes, or could happens. Growing up being told where to go, what to do, and even at times what to think. Imagine this environment, and assume it has been created with the most redeemed intentions, being one where self discovery may have been low on the totem pole of behaviours. Growing up in an environment where experiential learning may not have been promoted it’s easy to understand the lack of experience in living courageously. With this as the backdrop you can see why I was so moved by my friend this week. She had never known what she wanted to do in life. Didn’t know what she was passionate about. In fact, if you would have asked her she may have replied shopping, her kids, or ‘I don’t know’. My friend got a job this week. A job she has wanted to do for as long as I’ve known her. It’s not a glamorous job but that doesn’t matter. This isn’t a story about glamorous jobs but one of triumph and living fearlessly. My friend had never even applied for a job before. Her family was well connected growing up so she would get a job at the business her father ran or one of her father’s friends businesses. She never really had to find out what it was that made her tick and never had to have the courage to step outside the family compound to find experiences. She went from her family home to her marital home. From the job she had as a teen to full time motherhood. She was able to stay safe, comfortable, and frankly – somewhat afraid without any trouble at all. It was funny receiving the email from her asking me for help with her resume and cover letter because, as she insisted, she couldn’t do it as she had never even written a resume and didn’t know what to put in a cover letter. When I asked her what she wanted to do with this resume she told me she was finally going to go after the job she had wanted for 8 years. She didn’t know if she could do it, get it, or even if she was qualified but she assured me she was going to put her mind to it and overcome the fear of stepping out of her comfort zone. My friend is the kind of person who is so afraid of everything she has been paralyzed to do most things she desired to do. She’s been quite content to simply be a passenger on the train of life. This is why I found such joy in celebrating with her when she told me she had in fact landed that job. She shared with me that she had initially been sluffed off but that she persevered and went back a second and then third time. She found the courage to not take no for an answer. She found a way to triumph over her fear, grow experientially, and she has found something she LOVES. Awesome! Sometimes the biggest victories are found in the smallest places. FDR said it best, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Now that my friend has triumphed over her fear of her fear the sky is the limit. Her story allows me the perspective to know it’s not the big glossy dreams that speak to legacy rather the smaller personal victories that come when I have the courage to do what I know needs to be done despite my reservations. Thank you for your wonderful example.
An e-mail arrived yesterday which stopped me dead in my tracks. Through the day I, like many of you, receive a lot of e-mails and the majority tend not to stop me, lean me back in my chair, and cause me to reflect this way. I’ve been accused many times of living in my head or being too cerebral. For me, reflection on our shared experiences allows for the experience of wonder. It creates space to find the jewels of wisdom in one another’s lives. Reflection allows me to extract the marrow of life. This particular e-mail did that. A friend of mine is looking forward to getting married for the first time in the fall. I know – many of you are thinking that IS the courageous part. Others may be thinking ‘what’s the big deal.’ You see my friend was asking me for advice on what to expect in her first year of marriage. What to do, think, say, expect? What she needs to prepare for having been single all of her life? She was looking for the kernels of wisdom her married friend may be able to provide. What was astonishing to me was not the question or perspective she was looking for as this is a natural and regular occurrence in our friendship. What was astonishing to me was the courage it had taken her to get to this point. You see my friend has lived her life having never experienced a serious romantic relationship. In fact, she had never even experienced a kiss. Ever. She decided in her youth she would dedicate herself to her dream of saving herself for her husband. Upon reflecting on her decisions and beliefs I was astounded by her courage. This is not information she readily shares and the disclosure of said details, while certainly mildly daring, was not the genesis of my inspiration. I remember back to when I first found interest in the fairer sex and the pressure to flirt, touch, kiss, fool around, have sex – whatever – was tremendous. In fact it was the way we as young people and adults for that matter related with one another. It seemed as though the single most defining factor in relational interaction was the “spark” and often that was discovered based on the kiss and/or one another’s desire to be in some form of nakedness together. Those who chose to avoid these interactions where marginalized. It is worse today with girl’s social acceptance being based on their level of promiscuity. Imagine the courage it took for my friend to not only stick to her guns in what she knew to be right for her but to do all of that in light of her own longing for relationship, love, care, interaction, and physical connection with a man. She had the fortitude to follow her dreams regardless of cost and desire to the contrary. My friend is amazing. She gives me the inspiration to know if my dreams are important enough to me, no amount of immediate gratification can substitute the sheer joy experienced in a dream realized without the mortgaging of my beliefs. And look at the payoff. She is about to marry the man of her dreams and she can say with pride that she saved everything for him. She said once that she wanted her husband to be the only man she had ever kissed. Well, my friend, your dream has come true and I couldn’t be prouder for you. Your courage is inspiration to me and I am so proud to call you my friend.
What decisions have you made recently that speak to courage? What defines you? What one small decision you have made has been the catalyst for what you are doing now? Take a moment to reflect on your own courage and triumph. Your story is worth celebrating.
Friends – can’t live with them, can’t live without them. There are so many different variations of friends. Long time friends, new friends, long distance friends, next door neighbour friends, arms length friends, friends of friends, family that are friends, friends that are like family, friends with benefits – lots of different kinds of friends. I would hazard to suggest we probably have just as many different experiences with friendships as there are different definitions of friendships. I certainly have. We all have right? We can all name a time where we have been lifted up by a friend, supported in a way or at a time where the palpable friendship was so moving – it was burned into our memory of what “real” friendship is like. Conversely we have all had the opposite experience haven’t we? A situation where we have been so let down by a friend the let down caused disillusionment for friendships as a whole? More than that, the definition of friend is changing too isn’t it? I have an old friend with whom I am not really close with anymore who has more than 3000 Facebook friends in his mission to have the most Facebook friends on the net. Heck, Tila Tequila became (in)famous because she had the most MySpace friends in the world. For my money, I like the few and fierce approach. A few very close and fiercely active friendships. The types where you may not see one another all of the time but when you do you walk away feeling so good – regardless of the conversation. Could be a surface thing, could be deep and challenging – but always good.
Yesterday was great day. On the heels of a friendship disappointment, I travelled back to my hometown for the day and got to see 4 good friends. They are all different friendships with differing levels of time and experiences but all are good friendships. The first has become a friend through a business relationship but when we get together we laugh and laugh. That’s not something which comes easily to me so to have a friend like this is so cool. It’s never super deep but it’s good that way. The next friend I saw is one of my medical practitioners (he was a friend first). He and his wife and my wife and I are all close individually and together. We have great conversations. Deep and shallow. We have such an understanding. We share common loves and dislikes, young children, spiritual understandings, just so much. We don’t see each other every week but when we do see one another it’s great. I was at my best man’s house next. He wasn’t there but his wife and kids were. I love this family so much. I’ve actually been friends with them longer than any other active and engaged friendship I have. They are an example to me of how to grow but not change. How to be who you are happily and yet grow more deeply into who you were made to be. Even the 20 minutes I was there was so awesome. Finally we stopped for supper at a relatively newer friend’s home. We always love being with them. They are generous, open, warm, inviting, understanding, caring, and genuine. We have told them pretty much everything there is to know about us and they don’t flinch. They do the same with us. The wives get together and are close and us husbands get together and talk too. He and I talk more on the Blackberry’s but it’s our communication and it works for us. What is so cool to me is when friendship truly works. My hope is my family can be even half the friends these families/friends have been to us.
We’ve all had friendships where we’ve been let down. I think it’s a fact of life. Friendships suck sometimes. Jody Watley sang, “friends will let you down/friends won’t be around/when you need them the most – where are your friends?” and she was right. However, coming home from my hometown yesterday I was reminded of the best part of friendships. Good friendships, real friendships are the flavor of life. A light in the darkness of our lives. Yesterday I was encouraged to be the friend I want to have by the friendships I have been blessed to be a part of.
I feel like I am pregnant. At least I think I do. Not in the Oprah/Dr. Phil kinda way. There won’t be an hour-long TV story based on my pregnancy anytime soon. I may have been screwed over a few times lately but certainly nothing that would produce a child. But I digress. My wife described the process of pregnancy as delight at times and agony at others. Particularly when she got to that point when she said she was “done.” You may have heard of it before – pregnant woman so graciously carries her little bundle of joy and happily endures, I mean, enjoys her pregnancy until she wakes up one morning after a night of pseudo sleep because she can’t lay any particular way comfortably and says, “I’m done”. Then she stands up and realises she no longer has feet…or ankles. All of that to say that’s kind of how I feel.
Many people have commented on how positive and inspirational this blog is. To you I say thanks. However, I feel discouraged. Maybe just today or for the past few days but yeah – I’m off. Not way off just a bit off. I think any exploration or climbing of a mountain has some trepidation and doubt. And it’s not really doubt as much as it is impatience. Being almost at Base Camp 1 on my accent of Dream Mountain, I am equal parts thrilled at the progress and where we are and frustrated we are not further along. This is why I love the pregnancy analogy. When my wife was pregnant there came a time all she wanted was to deliver the baby. I’m at a similar impasse. Have you ever been there? Waiting on something you know will eventually happen but agonizing over the time it will take to get there. Maybe you were waiting to hear about acceptance to a certain school, for a boyfriend to ask you to marry him, for a baby to come, for a settlement to finalize, for a certain promotion, or maybe to finally be free of a very bad situation. Regardless I think we’ve all been there from time to time. My hope is to be completed the climb and living my dream by the fall. I’m just terrible with waiting. Patience is not a strong suit of mine. Even after reading my own blog (the process of progress) and drinking my own Kool-Aid, I am having a hard time not being anxious. Anxious to get going already, not anxious in an unsure kind of way. Sometimes I pray God will give me the patience to see this through, the courage to endure, and the strength to believe in myself and the gifts He has given me. God has a great sense of humour doesn’t He? How is it exactly God grants us patience without also granting the situation in which patience must be practiced? Or courage? Or strength for that matter? It’s been my experience God answers some prayers by giving us what we want and others by not giving us what we want. In this case, He has answered by giving me opportunities to practice. Uhhhh. This climb is long. The steps are relatively easily completed and each little bit sized success gets us closer to the goal. But FRIG – let’s just rent a helicopter and get to the top of Dream Mountain already! I mean really – isn’t that why helicopters were invented? To fly quickly in areas planes, cars, and feet cannot get in the quickest fashion possible? Like seriously, who ever says, “no thanks, I’d rather climb the mountain.” I do I guess. As much as I hate it – I do. I need to. This is a weakness I need to manage and walking through this process with the awareness of my impatience and not becoming the impatience is the next crevasse to be scaled. Hey that sounds like a new challenge. Cool.
My wife tried to figure out how to get unpregnant from 7 months on. Whether it was castor oil, walking, aerobics, nesting, whatever she could to be finished her pregnancy as soon as possible she did it. She just wanted to get on with it. I’m feeling like that now. Let’s just start living the dream. Enough of the climb – let’s get to the summit. You know it’s funny. A few weeks after my baby was born my wife said to me, “sweetheart, I miss being pregnant, this Mommy thing is a bitch.” On second thought, I’m enjoying the climb.
January 8, 1988 was an interesting day. It was the last day of the first week back at school in the Powers’ household after the Christmas holiday. The world was a week into the Soviet Union’s new economic reform called perestroika. The Dow Jones lost 140 points or 6.5% in a mini-crash closing at 1911.31. (wow – 1911.31 – it’s now cresting 11000) The single most important thing to me from that day was the release of a single by an artist you may have heard of. His name was Michael Jackson and the song is ‘Man in the Mirror’. Quincy Jones commented Michael Jackson was looking to add an anthem to his follow-up to Thriller, a project which would eventually become his 7th studio album entitled Bad. Jackson was looking to have a song which would inspire and be a call to arms for his fans to add value to their lives and to the world. For me as an impressionable 12-year-old Michael Jackson fan – I just liked the song. It wasn’t my favorite though. I always gravitated to his more up tempo songs. The Way You Make Me Feel, Bad, Dirty Diana, and Sooth Criminal were all on that album. In fact, it was the first album in history to have its first 5 releases hit #1 and the only album ever to have 10 of its 11 tracks released chart in the top 10. However, Man in the Mirror didn’t hit me till later in life. Maybe I simply did not understand the significance of the lyrics.
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” Why couldn’t I have learned the power of this statement at 12? Or 22? Or 32? It’s not like I haven’t had opportunity. My faults and flaws are clearly on display for all to see and have been as long as I have been around. At 12 I could write it off as being twelve. At 22 – well nuff said. At 32 it was a little more difficult however I was still well head of the success curve for my age so it could be chalked up to stress or pressure or coping. The fact of the matter is this; I haven’t really had to “take a look at (my)self and make a change” . I have been able to continue entrenching my weaknesses as I have made excuses or blamed the result of my weakness on others or other situations. It has been harder and harder to look at the man in the mirror as I climb Dream Mountain as I have grown very aware the extra weight I carry up the mountain is not the supplies which will help my dreams come true but rather the weight I carry is the excess baggage of not having “changed my ways”. The ascension of Dream Mountain and the decisions my wife and I have made over the last 7 months have removed all excuses as to why I carry the extra weight except for one – the man in the mirror. As we prepare to climb to Base Camp 2, although the path of the climb may have been altered a bit, the extra weight I carry needs to be removed. I “want to make the world a better place” therefore I will continue to “look at (my)self and make a change”. Would I change how these years and experiences have unfolded? No. Would I do it all differently? No. If I were to do things differently I wouldn’t have the wealth of experiences I do now. It seems to me leading others to change or managing people through change is one thing but managing the change in my life is a whole other story. Managing the change in my life takes a constant awareness of what and who is in the mirror. How easy do you find it to look in the mirror? What do you say to your reflection?
I’ve heard it said we are all creative, resourceful, and whole and that I have all of the tools to make the wholesale adjustments needed to be the best me possible. To be the man God created me to be. It seems to me the only person who, in the past, has not bought into that vision is me. Maybe I’ve thought it would be too hard, maybe I haven’t had to try, and maybe I haven’t wanted to? It is hard, I am trying, and I do want to. I’m starting with the man in the mirror and I’ve asked him to change his ways. No message could be any clearer. I want to make the world a better place. So, I have taken a look at myself and agreed to make a change.
It was a big fall. As I stood on the edge and looked over my knees trembled and my hands quivered. It was the highest height I had ever seen and all of a sudden I was paralyzed with the fear of heights. As I talked myself out of jumping I could hear the laughter of those behind me and my 7 year old ego took over. I walked to back to the edge of the Olympic sized diving platform and jumped. The fall felt like forever and when I hit the water my husky 7 year old frame discovered the truth about pain. At that point a rule was created in my consciousness, “always fear jumping – it hurts”.
True to form I have allowed my life to be ruled by that fear for 28 years. Don’t jump – it hurts. Oh I am the master of change, the advocate for living on the edge, a soap box preacher for changing it up but when push comes to shove – I turtle and play it safe. What a hypocrite eh? Here’s a guy who writes a blog about Living Your Dreams and can’t even walk the walk. I was faced with the opportunity this past April to finally live my dreams and truly begin my journey. I was at the cross roads again – go on my own and start the company I have always dreamed of owning or accept an opportunity to do what I have done for over 14 years and manage a Porsche dealership in downtown Toronto. You know what I chose – safe. I chose the money. I chose the security. I chose to not take my own advice, not jump off that edge, and not take the risk. I chose the road of hypocrisy. This is the very reason I have not written since the end of April. How can I write about Living Your Dream when I can’t even do that myself? Have you ever done that? Have you ever made decisions knowing what you wanted to do or even needed to do but the fear was so huge you chose to stay safe and unhappy rather than the alternative?
My name is Sean Moffett and I am a hypocrite.
But I have great news! There is hope for us. There is hope for me. I finally did it. I jumped. I took my own advice and I am now living my dreams. The Moffett Company has been established and I am speaking, training, and consulting and loving every minute of it. There has been a wealth of affirmation for my decision and with the admission of my fear and willingness to talk about what has shackled me for so long I am finding hundreds of other people who have experienced these same feelings. And as we share our triumphs and stumbles it’s overwhelming to know I’m not alone.
What fears are holding you back? If you had a magic wand and could wave it and change one thing in your life what would that one thing be? What would you do for free if you could? Please share your stories.
The wind is blowing through my hair as I fly through the air. I have finally jumped. If you hear a splat – send help…but from my view – the sky’s the limit.