Be Bold, Take Responsibility, and Act. That’s what the “A” stands for in BRAVE. Brave people do brave things. They don’t just think about doing them. They do them. For many people, the idea of being a hero is intimidating and out of reach. But everyone can bravely take action. Act. You’ll be glad you did.
If there’s one thing we can say about brave people, it’s that brave people do brave deeds. Bravery is not a mind game. Purple hearts are not given for those who think brave thoughts. They are given, to quote from the first President of the United States, to those who perform “any singularly meritorious action,” including “unusual gallantry, extraordinary fidelity, and essential service.”
That’s why the “A” in BRAVE stands for Act. Brave people take action. Most recently, our minds turn to those firefighters and security personnel who rushed to the scene of the attacks in New York City and Washington DC, or to those passengers who wrested control of United Flight 93 from the hijackers in the sky over Pennsylvania, only to lose their lives in the process of taking action for others. Those were brave people.
In the face of such “singularly meritorious actions,” it’s easy to put those heroes up on a pedestal that is beyond the reach of ordinary people like you and me. But that would miss the point. What made these people brave was not just the risk they took in the service of others; it was also the fact that they took action. When they shifted from thinking about action to taking action, they were demonstrating a courage that each of us can emulate.
What makes taking action brave? The fact that we can never fully know, in advance, the outcome of any action. The fact that we risk rejection as well as failure. The fact that every action not only opens but closes doors. The fact that action grounds and engages us in the world, as no idea ever can.
For these reasons and more, people frequently contact LifeTrek for coaching in order to assist them to take action. The action may be something they have been procrastinating about, or that they don’t know how to do, or that they’re not sure they’re going to like. Whatever the situation, many clients rely on the relationship with their coach to develop the temerity to take action.
And guess what? Many clients do just that, in very short order. How? It’s usually not because their coach gives them a boot in the pants. It’s more often because their coach gets them to reframe taking action as a learning game rather than as a lifelong commitment. Many people want to figure everything out ahead of time before they take action. They want to cover all the bases and consider all the angles. They want everything to be just right before moving forward. As a result, they never move. They paralyze themselves by elevating action to the pedestal of Purple Heart heroism.
That’s not the most empowering stance to take. LifeTrek coaches assist clients to cast action in terms of a science experiment. Science, like bravery, is not a mind game. Nobel prizes are not given to those who develop great theories. They are given, to quote from the will of Alfred Nobel, “to those who have made the most important discovery or invention” within their field of interest.
It takes experimental action to make a great discovery. The best theory in the world is just that, a theory, until it has been tested • over and over again • in the laboratory of science. And on the road to validation, every great theory goes through one failed test after another. That’s not just expected, it’s encouraged. The more experiments fail, the more creative people become in subsequent experiments. “Fail and fail often,” is the motto of IDEO Corporation, an award-winning product-development company. It’s a great way to grow.
Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid of what others might think? Are you afraid to draw outside the lines? Don’t be! Recognize all action for what it is: an experiment on the trek of life. If one action does not produce the intended results, try a different action. Keep trying until you find one that fits like a comfortable old shoe. It will be effortless and a real joy to maintain. It will produce contentment as well as a steady source of energy. In short, it will be right for you • until it’s not.
That’s when it’s time to be brave and start the experiments all over again. Act. Don’t rest on your laurels or get stymied with too much thinking. Act. Put forward a hypothesis and test it out in the laboratory of life. Would you make a great consumer product manager? Would you enjoy being a health care professional? Act. Move yourself forward in that direction. See what happens to your energy. Do that, and people will call you brave.
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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Reader’s Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. These selections do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. They do reflect the diversity of those who read Provisions each week for support and strength on the trek of life. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
I enjoy your newsletter and find it more beneficial for me all the time. I’m always trying to be a better person. It’s also been great fun watching your membership grow. I think you have a lot to offer and it’s obvious so do a lot of other people.
Though he has many flaws, Bobby Knight, former Indiana basketball coach, is attributed with one of my favorite quotes: “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.”
I am in the middle of listening to Steve Chandler’s 17 Lies that are holding you back and the truth will set you free and he talks about Responsibility as being response-ability, i.e. the ability to respond to challenges and the ability to change your response as well. A concept worth exploring!
Thanks for your newsletter. I don’t have scientific proof at hand, but I’ve heard that drinking ice water is damaging to the kidneys. Large amounts might be even more so. Thanks again. (Ed. Note: Not according to my research.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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