Be Bold, take Responsibility, Act, be Versatile, and Endure. That’s my complete acronym for BRAVE. Do you have what it takes to endure? Don’t think in terms of grit and determination. Think in terms of enjoying the process of trial and correction, of tenaciously pursuing and celebrating lifelong learning.
Motivational and behavioral theorist Abraham Maslow once commented: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will tend to see every problem as a nail.”
This truth is important as we consider the final letter in the acronym for BRAVE. Brave people • as world leaders often remind us in the current context of global conflict • Endure. They persist. They go the distance. When they get knocked down, they get back up to face their challenges anew. No amount of intimidation keeps the brave-hearted from living their values and pursuing their dreams.
What could be more self-evident? No acronym for courage would be complete if it did not encompass this critical dimension. It’s not enough to be Bold and Responsible, to Act and be Versatile. If, as they say, when the going gets tough a person fails to get going, all the other qualities will quickly fade away.
And the going will get tough. As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote for the first sentence of his first book: “Life is difficult.” Accepting that truth makes all the difference in the world. As long as we expect life to be easy, we chafe under and rail against the struggle of getting where we want to go. We resent the fact that the green grass on the other side of the fence is just as hard to mow.
Accepting this truth liberates us to enjoy life anyway, to embrace it as perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect. Are there things we’d like to change? Of course! Can we snap our fingers and make it so? Not often! Will we make mistakes along the way? Yes. But understanding this, we can endure most anything, with patience and joy. The fun is in the process of becoming, of lifelong learning, particularly if we have more tools in our toolkit than a hammer.
That’s the important caveat when it comes to endurance. Too often people think of courage and bravery as running up the same hill, over and over again, weathering all manner of losses until the enemy is overcome. With enough troops, that strategy may eventually prevail. But it’s a stupid strategy with enormous casualties and losses.
Better to learn from our mistakes and try a new strategy, perhaps using a different tool, than to keep doing the same thing over and over again. Simply working harder and longer will not produce different results if the method itself is flawed. There’s no point in doggedly pursuing a losing strategy. Sometimes we need to change our approach, other times we need to change our hypotheses, and there may even be times when we need to change our goal. Versatility plus endurance, in perfect balance, produces success and fulfillment in the trek of life.
Tim Gallwey reminds us to look at how a toddler learns to walk. It isn’t trial and error. It’s trial and correction, with lots of fun along the way. Those first few steps typically lead to two eventualities: falling down and rousing applause. Everyone present, including the child, smiles and laughs at those obviously awkward and relatively unsuccessful first attempts.
But the child wants to walk. And the child knows that the goal of walking is not beyond his or her reach. Mom and dad do it all the time. So adjustments are made, trial and correction style, until the art of walking is mastered • never to be thought about again, until some impediment perhaps makes it difficult. Ironically, we seldom have more fun and get more cheers for walking than when we barely know how and often fall over. The joy is in the process of trial and correction, and so we endure to the end.
Scientists understand this joy as well. They call it the scientific method. Identify a conundrum. Develop a theory. Test the theory. Fall down. Change the variables. Change the method. Change the theory, if necessary. But stick with the process until a discovery is made. Can’t you almost feel the excitement? Many a scientist will tell you that they learn more from the unexpected failure than from the expected success.
So too with your own life. Approach it as the greatest science experiment of all, imagine that you’re continuously learning to walk, celebrate your falling down and your rising up, and enjoy your so-called failures as true gifts: they have much to teach and generate along the way.
The Endurance of the BRAVE does not come primarily from grit and determination, although that is a factor. It comes from discovering and appreciating the joy of the trek to Xanadu. Brave people enjoy the process of becoming. They hang in there because they take pleasure in what’s happening to them and to the world along the way. Do you have the right stuff? It doesn’t just come from within. It comes from the relationship of life.
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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.
Great article on versatility. Leaders often fall into the trap of being innovative in the idea stage only, leaving themselves out of the actual implementation stage. The level of ownership can fall tremendously as managers get stuck implementing others ideas.
I am back at college finishing up my BA degree in Management at age 51. I have written on leadership and read some books to research the topic. I just want to say, “Right On!” The difference between a leader and a manager is so well stated, and so seldom acknowledged. Keep up the good writing. Happy Holidays and a stupendous 2002.
Thanks for the LifeTrek updates, they’re always excellent. I also appreciate your parenting thought of simply getting out of our children’s way. I think far too often we try to mold and shape clay which is already set, and simply end up breaking what once was a great piece of art. Thanks for the advice.
Excellent provision, as always!
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
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