Average people ask, “What will happen if I fail?”
Compassionate samurai ask, “What will happen if I don’t take this risk”
In Thailand, centuries ago, there was a town with a beautiful gold statue of the Bhudda in the center of their town. Facing imminent invasion from their enemies, they painted over the gold statue with plaster and paint. For years, the statue of the Bhudda stood in the center of the town, it’s true character unknown. Several years ago, construction was being done on the area where it stood. In order to accommodate the construction, the statue had to be moved. The tractors pulled and pulled, the chains around the statue strained and strained. With all the pressure applied, the plaster and paint cracked, and the beautiful gold original was seen for what it truly was, in all its beauty.
Brian Klemmer, in his book,The Compassionate Samurai: Being Extraordinary In An Ordinary World, uses the above example to illustrate that courage and greatness lie within, but are often covered over by fear, laziness, or inaccurate perceptions we have formed of ourselves over the years.
A key success factor for the death of cowardice is the continuous practice of courage!
David was a twelve year old misfit in his family of twelve. He was the ‘failure’ of the family, working in the most dead end job of all jobs. Yet, when a dangerous crisis arose, he was able to kill a giant heavyweight from the enemies of his people. The raw courage he displayed was the stuff out of which he later became king over Israel. You can reach the historical account of David and Goliath here.
We all face danger daily: 50% of marriages end in divorce, great percentages of first businesses fail, growing old and losing your physical strength and abilities is scary. It’s often easier to avoid danger, or to cover over the fear with overeating, laziness, staying in a certain comfort zone, using liquor or drugs to escape.
In the Lion King, Simba grows to believe the lies that his deceitful and jealous uncle plants in his mind: that he is weak, that his father’s death was his fault, and that he does not have what it takes to be a king. Years later, it is when Simba decides to act in line with his true inner greatness, despite fear, that he earns the right to become the Lion King.
Unfortunately, we too have too often come to believe incorrect things about ourselves, and more importantly, about our God. Writing as a Christian, I know that far too many of us Christians act as if we serve a small, powerless God, rather than the All-Knowing, All-Powerful Creator of the Universe. Our God is too small! And too often we rob ourselves of faith and belief in our God, and in the abilities He has given us.
So, how can we kill cowardice in this next week?
Practice taking on challenges head on. It may mean calling that customer that you find intimidating. It may be a tough conversation with your spouse, your friend, or with a business partner. It may mean taking an action toward a decision that will take you out of your comfort zone, such as starting to write a book, starting that blog, or starting that business you have been afraid to start.
You don’t have to start out by slaying a 9 foot giant. David, in Scripture, built his courage like a muscle by taking on predators who came after the sheep he was in charge of. Maybe you are not ready to be a manager at work today, but you can begin by stepping up and stepping out for higher risk assignments, or by volunteering to do things that may place you outside of your comfort zone, like doing a presentation that involves public speaking, for example.
Go for the Gold.
It’s okay to receive rewards. When David was considering taking on the Giant, he asked what the reward was. He learned that whoever conquered the Giant would receive the king’s beautiful daughter’s hand in marriage, and that his family and his descendants would be granted tax exemption for generations to come. Remind yourself of the rewards of developing courage: increased self-esteem, greater moral fibre, greater opportunities, better rewards, both financially and intrinsically.
Create your MasterMind Group
Whenever someone steps up to show greatness, there will be equal resistance from negative people around them. This will happen to you. Trust me, they will laugh at you, ridicule you, and even mock you. David’s brothers were angry and upset with him when they found that he was considering fighting the Giant. They thought he had become prideful, arrogant, conceited. But David found others who believed in him and what he could do. Later on in his life, he befriended King Saul’s son, Jonathan, who was one of the most courageous soldiers in Israel. Create your master network. Be choosy of who you associate with in your inner circle. Choose to be with people more successful than you, who will stretch you and affirm you.
Use Your Strengths!
Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t just be aware of your weaknesses and try to avoid them. Play to your natural talents and abilities. David chose to forego the bulky armor and sword that were offered to them. Instead, he chose to use the tool of his trade: a sling and five smooth stones. Equipped with faith in his God and in his abilities, he killed the Giant!
Get Some New Glasses!
In other words, change your mind about who you are and about what you can do. More importantly, change your mind about Who God is, and about What God Can Do! As long as the decisions you are making are in line with ethical values, you can have confidence that He will be there to assist you. Unfortunately, we too often view ourselves, our abilities, and God and God’s abilities with out of focus lenses. Everything looks blurry and uncertain. But when we realize who we are and who He is, it gives us the confidence to act with courage.