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endure the pain



 “Be brave.  I need you to be brave,” said the preschool teacher as she stood by the lone red truck on the rug.  Clean up time was over and the little ones were in line anticipating the playground.  The teacher was expecting the child who played with the red truck to take ownership and come put it away.  “BE BRAVE!”

It’s astonishing how often I’ve needed that admonition in life: BE BRAVE!  Show courage!  Face the danger! Endure the pain! It will be worth it.

The three-year-old boy stepped out of the line headed to the playground, picked up the little red truck and placed it in the “transportation” container.  It must have seemed like an eternity playing out in slow motion for him; all the while, his preschool teacher was telling him how brave he was.

I stood in the doorway of that classroom watching it all unfold twenty years ago. That snapshot plays through my mind again today.  I’ve never needed to be brave more than I do today at fifty years old.  I want desperately to step out of the place headed to where I’ve already been and move in a new direction.  It’s time for me to be brave.  Maybe you need to be brave too -- in your leadership, in your community, in your home.

What does it mean to be brave, you ask?  It means — do it afraid!  It means — take a deep breath and run toward it, not away from it.  It means — don’t let fear determine your destiny.  It means — act in spite of what you are feeling.  

Bravery is something you acquire over years of practice.  To practice bravery, start by admitting you are scared and notice that you are not alone.  You may be surprised to learn that everyone deals with this emotion. Ask them! Once you acknowledge that you (and everyone else) are afraid, name what you are afraid of.  Is it failure, humiliation, others responses?  Re-frame those fears. (It might sound something like this:  Is it failure, or is it an education?  Humiliation fosters humility which is an excellent quality in anyone.  You cannot control other people’s responses, so why let that control you.)  After you re-frame your fears, embrace uncertainty.  Life is full of risks and uncertainty, so embrace your vulnerability and take a step forward.

BE BRAVE!  The world needs all of us to be brave.  Show courage to step out of the pack and move in a different direction -- a direction that calls you to more.  Face the danger of starting over, if you’ve ended up in a misguided place.  Endure the pain of disapproval from your peers and begin something new. It will be worth it for you, your family, and the community around you.