Courage of Purpose
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon
What are you most afraid of losing? No, I’m not talking about your life. Let’s say in your job, what are you most afraid of? Generally, for me, I’m most afraid I’m wasting my time. Since I passed the half-century mark, I wonder how much more impact I’ll have. I wonder how many more opportunities I’ll have to make a positive difference in the world. You probably don’t wonder about things like that. You’re probably younger.
A close second might be looking foolish or being wrong, or losing money. Like most people in the west, I’m not in fear of having nothing to eat or in danger from the elements or from an enemy. My fears are much more first-world fears.
However have you ever noticed how easily we can become defensive or focus on ourselves? I love the Ambrose Redmoon quote above because it reminds me to consider those things that are most important. For me, that has meant force-ranking my goals in life and then spending my best energy on my highest goals. None of my primary goals are self-preservation or image-management. Yet self-preservation and image-management are the things I do when I’m not doing something else. In some way, self-preservation and image-management are assumed in everything I do. But if those are my highest goals, I don’t like me very much. I don’t want to follow the guy who looks out for himself. The absence of a noble purpose is the greatest cause for failure.
Our highest purpose is never wrong, at least not to us. Our purpose exposes our values so we defend it at all costs. We make excuses for our pursuit of it. We want others to agree with us that our highest purpose is noble. We treasure it above all. But our highest purpose can be too low. Or it can be directed toward base or inferior goals for common or even corrupt reasons. What do you judge to be “more important than fear?” For what will you risk looking foolish or losing money? And if that thing is more important than fear, how much of your life is spent pursuing it?
Photo cc Vigili del Fuoco 3 by Roberto Taddeo