Tough times never last but tough people do.
Years ago, Robert Schuller used today’s tip as the title of his book. I thought it was a great title, and I think the book may be more relevant than ever. These are tough times, and we all need to be tougher than the times.
So how do we do that? We need to think and act with courage. We need to boldly step out and speak out. And it doesn’t matter if we’re concerned about the economy, our work-life balance, or our national destiny. This is not the time for fear, negativity, and comfort-zone living. This is the time for courage.
Of course, courage is a rather vague concept. So let me be specific. I believe that we all need to be practicing three types of courage. The first is the COURAGE TO DREAM.
If you’ve heard me speak, you know that I strongly emphasize the need for positive thinking. Originally, I thought everybody would agree with such a noble concept. That’s not the case. Cynics call positive thinkers crazy.
But who really is crazy? The play, “The Man of La Mancha,” raises that very question. Is Don Quixote, The Man of La Mancha, crazy for only seeing the positive possibilities in the world, or is the world crazy because it only sees the negative realities?
I would suggest that the crazy people are the negative people. All they see and all they talk about are the negatives of society, and by so doing, they reinforce the negatives.
By contrast, the positive people give the world a dream. They point out the good in the world and in the people around them. By reminding people of their goodness, their potential, and their possibilities, people begin to believe it and behave it.
How about you? Do you still have the COURAGE TO DREAM? I hope so.
Second, we all need the COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT. One of the biggest problems in our society is the fact that the negative people are speaking out while the positive people are silent.
And to make matters worse, unusual amounts of attention are given to the negative people. I’ve noticed, for example, that there can be conventions in various cities across the country, where hundreds or thousands of people have gathered for some good cause, but the news media will spend more time focusing on the eight protestors standing outside the meeting than the hundreds inside the meeting.
Something has got to change, and perhaps it is. Ever since the September 11 tragedies, I’ve seen the media shift attention to the heroes and heroines of those events. More attention is being given to the positive people. That’s so refreshing and so healthy.
You and I need the COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT, which implies the wisdom to sort out. We need to sort out the winners and the losers, and we need to be careful about who we are listening to.
Some people, for example, say the world is a bad place, that it gave them a raw deal, that no one cares. Others will say God is dead; prayer doesn’t work, and religion is a bunch of baloney. But take a look at who’s saying those things. Winners or losers?
Some people say marriage is outdated, that such commitments are ridiculous. But look who’s saying it. Winners or losers? All too many people get hurt in a relationship, even divorced, and they become anti-marriage, anti-male, or anti-female, and they continually speak out their negativity.
I hope you’re a positive person, and I hope you have the COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT. It may not be easy, and it may not be popular, but in the long run you will win.
One broadcaster knew that instinctively. In her 30-year career, she was fired 18 times, but every time it happened, she set her sights on something better.
When no mainline U.S. radio station would hire her, mostly because she was a woman, she moved to Puerto Rico and polished her Spanish. When the wire service refused to send her to the Dominican Republic to cover an uprising, she scraped some money together, flew there on her own, and started to gather and sell her own news stories.
Finally in 1982 she was asked to host a political radio talk show. She told her husband she didn’t know much about politics. She would have to speak out of her heart.
She went on the radio, and drawing on her familiarity with a microphone and her easy confessional style, she talked about what the 4th of July meant to her. She invited callers to do the same, and she connected immediately with her listeners.
She became known as the “Dear Abby” of the air waves. And today, Sally Jessy Raphael holds several Emmy’s and is the award-winning host of a TV show that reaches millions every day. Quite simply, Sally had the COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT.
Third, we all need the COURAGE TO RISK. In other words, we need to feel as though we’d rather die trying to do something great than live doing nothing.
That’s what Eula Weaver did. At age 77 she was paralyzed with a stroke. It would have been easy for her to think, “This is it. I’m at the age most people die, so I must be on my way out.”
Not Eula. She could hardly walk, but the doctors gave her two choices: 1) spend the rest of her life as an invalid, allow herself to be hand fed, and get ready to die, or 2) get out of bed and start walking no matter how much it hurt.
Some time later, the newspaper featured Eula in her jogging suit running a mile a day at age 88. She had the COURAGE TO RISK.
Practice these three things, the courage to dream, speak out, and risk, and you’ll find that tough times never last, but tough people do.
Action: I challenge you to take on the COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT, and by that I mean the courage to speak out the positive. For one week, see if you can go an entire seven days without saying one negative thing about anything to anyone. Look for the good in any situation and speak it out. Of course, there are times you must be confrontational and point out things that need to be changed. I’ve written about that in previous tips. But for the sake of practice and character development, take on my challenge for one week. Then e-mail me and tell me what you found out.