Courage And A Story Of Two Men

by Paula Pant on · 6 comments

I’m going to tell you a story of two men: Jared and Sam. These sto­ries are true, although the names of the men, and cer­tain iden­ti­fy­ing details, have been changed.

Jared con­stantly wor­ried that he’d fail. He never saw any char­ac­ter­is­tic within him­self that pointed toward suc­cess. He was always an aver­age stu­dent, never the bright­est. He was an aver­age ath­lete, never the strongest or fastest. He was mediocre at music and art. He had decent inter­per­sonal skills, but no com­pelling charisma.

Jared’s life seemed to be one set­back after another. He was rejected from his top-choice uni­ver­sity, and had to set­tle for sec­ond best. He got decent grades, and shortly after he grad­u­ated, he met and mar­ried a nice brunette woman. Life seemed to be look­ing up.

He found a job at a home-repair com­pany, and over time, he got pro­moted. He had one child, then another, then a third. His fear of fail­ure lay dor­mant. That fear stayed deep within him, but life’s pleas­ant cir­cum­stances lulled the fear into tak­ing a nap.

One day Jared got laid off from that home-repair com­pany. He felt crushed. He had a tough time look­ing his three chil­dren in the eyes. Had he failed them?

He tried to find another job, but was con­stantly plagued by the fear of fail­ure. He stam­mered dur­ing inter­views. His face looked hag­gard from poor sleep. No one wanted to hire him.

He returned to grad­u­ate school, but felt embar­rassed by his posi­tion as an older stu­dent. He felt intim­i­dated by class­mates who were younger and smarter. He turned assign­ments in late. His essays were sloppy. His pro­fes­sors rewarded him with C’s, which only fur­ther dis­cour­aged him. Even­tu­ally, he dropped out.

Now he had stu­dent loans from a degree he never fin­ished, in addi­tion to no job. His mar­riage was falling apart. His spirit was crushed. His fear of fail­ure had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

****

One of Jared’s sons, Sam, watched his father’s exam­ple and vowed to per­sist in the face of fear.

As Sam aged, he faced the same self-doubts that his dad did. He feared fail­ure. He doubted his skill and ade­quacy. But he per­sisted in spite of his fears.

Sam was an aver­age stu­dent in col­lege, just like his dad. But Sam believed he was bound for great­ness, no mat­ter what his report card said.

When he was laid off from his first job, he decided that was a sign from the uni­verse that he was bound for some­thing even greater. Sam found a bet­ter job, and quickly rose the ranks. By age 25, he was earn­ing more than his father ever had.

Sam even­tu­ally decided to enroll in grad­u­ate school, but he didn’t notice that he was an “older” stu­dent. It never crossed his mind that he was in the com­pany of peo­ple who were younger and sharper. He saw him­self among intel­lec­tual peers.

Sam dropped out of grad­u­ate school, just like his dad did, but he did it for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son. Sam dropped out because he spot­ted an oppor­tu­nity to launch his own com­pany. A new mar­ket had just opened up, and his idea couldn’t wait.

Sam was afraid, of course. He knew he was tak­ing a big risk. He knew he’d wind up with stu­dent loans and no degree to show for it, just like his dad did. He was afraid that his com­pany would flop.

But Sam didn’t let him­self focus on those fears. While his dad fret­ted about fail­ure, Sam trained him­self to focus on oppor­tu­ni­ties to suc­ceed. Sam per­sisted not in the absence of fear, but in spite of his fear.

Sam’s new com­pany had ups and downs, just as all new com­pa­nies do. The highs felt nice, but the lows were very, very low. In those dark­est days, Sam ignored the lit­tle voice whis­per­ing in his ear about fail­ure. He kept his eye trained on the prize.

In short: Sam had courage. He felt afraid, just as his dad did, but he trained his mind to search for anti­dotes. Courage is not the absence of fear, Sam real­ized. Courage is per­sis­tence in spite of fear.


by Paula Pant

Thanks to wise money man­ag­ing, Paula Pant has trav­eled to 27 coun­tries, pur­chased a 99-year-old Vic­to­rian home near cen­tral Atlanta’s most beau­ti­ful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Any­thing, is based on one rad­i­cal idea: money should never hin­der your dreams.
Paula Pant
View all posts by Paula Pant

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy | Treatment Talk March 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Hi Paula,

Enjoyed reading this post. It is interesting how we can all look at things through different lenses. Finding your true passion in life does take courage. Risks have to be taken, but in the end, we will not have any regrets. Whatever the outcome, we will know we gave it our all.
Cathy | Treatment Talk´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to Help Yourself and Get Your Life BackMy Profile

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Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) March 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Great story. It’s ALL in our attitude. EVERY ONE has challenges. EVERY ONE has set-backs. How we react is our choice. While it may be corny, a positive attitude is contagious. At the very least, those around you won’t get bummed out by your bad mood!
Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan)´s Last Fabulous Post ..Why Men Need Other MenMy Profile

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George Wade March 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Great story Paula.
I believe that one should never let their fear take over their lives. Everyone should try and follow Sam’s realization.

Thanks.

-George
George Wade´s Last Fabulous Post ..meditation musicMy Profile

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Daniel D. Lombardi March 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Hi Paula,
This story reminds me of how much the power of the mind can influence our choices and decisions. It’s quite impressive that we can be so infected by the way we think. We should all keep this in mind when we make our decisions and use positive thought to make our plans work out for the better.

Thank you for this great post,
Daniel
Daniel D. Lombardi´s Last Fabulous Post ..Inspirational Books: The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoMy Profile

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