What My Toddler Taught Me About Courage…
We attended a family birthday shindig recently, held at a kid’s party venue on the outskirts of the city. You know the type: a large outdoor garden, with a giant jungle gym, monkey bars, cricket pitch and plastic motorbikes strewn across a miniature race track.
It was a wonderful morning. Overcast, but not cool. About twenty young children showed up, and it was one screaming, messy, sugar-fueled blowout. Phew!
Watching the kids play, I noticed that my own offspring had created a game of her own. She would ride a bike, hop off, and pick another bike. She’d climb onto that one, push for two steps, and then repeat the exercise, with another new bike. (We’re still learning how to share, ok? She does quite literally want to play with all the toys at once)
She was happily engrossed in her solo game, until she saw a man – one of the party daddies – walking in the direction of her next bike. Convinced that this man, this playground imposter, was heading to snitch her next bike ride, she leapt off her current bike, and charged for him, yelling, “No! No! Wait! No! No me!” (which generally means “Don’t do that to me.”)
She reached her adversary just as he approached the bike (which he was actually just intending to walk around). He towered above her, and yet she ran in front of him, put her dwarfed hands on his shins – still exclaiming, “No! Wait! No! No me!” – and proceeded to shove this grown man backwards. If that wasn’t enough, she then decided to growl at him to drive her point home.
Taken off-guard, he looked around helplessly, momentarily unsure of how he should react to the pint-sized beast gnashing her little teeth at his feet.
Oh, how I laughed! Sure, I was the tiniest bit embarrassed by my princess’s behaviour, but boy was I proud! This kid knew what she wanted, and she wasn’t letting anyone – no matter how big – stand in her way. Yes, I was proud! And inspired too.
The Real Adversary
Whether it be a more experienced competitor, a domineering senior, or someone who is simply a whole lot bigger than you in every way that seems to matter, adversaries can be quite real. But there is nothing as debilitating as that which lies within our own hearts: Self-doubt. Timidity. Fear.
I heard an interesting fact last week (not too long after watching my kid beat up a grown man): 7 out of 10 entrepreneurs will fail at their first attempt at business. That’s a staggering number – 70% chance of failure! The hard part is getting back up again.
I’m still learning so maybe I’m wrong, but I think the problem is that we take failure personally.
Does failing make me a less valuable person?
Maybe I am just not destined for more than this?
Maybe I don’t deserve it?
Will people love me less if I fail? (Sadly, some might – perhaps those are toxic people that you can honestly do without)
We live in such a success-driven society. And it’s great. No, really: we need to want better, hope for better, and try for better. The problem is that failure has become taboo. Don’t go there! Sweep those aspirations under the rug, unless you’re 100% sure you can succeed at them!
Oh please, when can you ever be 100% sure of anything? Or even 80%?! All you’re left with is a life half-lived and a rug straining to hide the mountain of stale dreams that you’ve swept beneath it. No, thank you.
Every decision we make is fraught with risks. The person we choose to marry. The job we decide to take. The business venture we decide to embark on. The decision to have children. Even our daily routines, like which road to drive to work each day – the very act of deciding something denotes a risk factor.
So what do you?
Face the Giants.
Take time to examine your own heart and what’s holding you back, and then consciously acknowledge that unwarranted fear is an illusion and it’s a dream-killer. I venture to say that fear of failure is more deadly to your life’s path than actual failure.
Don’t give up. One can almost be guaranteed that failure will rear its ugly head at some point along your journey. Get up again. Just keep getting up. You only truly fail when you stop trying.
And finally… Recognize when to stop trying. Ha! Wait a minute, I hear you mumble. But you just said… I did, didn’t I?
Sometimes failure is final. Be gracious with yourself – if you’ve given everything that you had to something and it still bums out, then let it go. Instead, take a deep breathe and be grateful for life’s other blessings and all the amazing lessons that you’ve learned along the way. Trust God that nothing is wasted and that these things will align themselves to be exactly what they were meant for.
Jeremiah 8 vs 4
This is what the Lord says: “When people fall down, don’t they get up again? And when someone goes the wrong way, doesn’t he turn back?”
Matthew 6 vs 34
…don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I’m still growing and walking this journey with you. I hope that we’ll find the courage to give the giants in our lives the proverbial shove, and may we go on to live life to absolute fullest, with not a single dream left unexplored under the rug.