NOTES ON COURAGE BY CHRIS
In trying to decide what to write about courage, I began by looking up what it meant. 'The ability to do something that frightens one.'
Upon reading this, I realize courage is one of the most important traits in life and one essential to success. Then I thought back to one of the earliest, salient memories I personally had of courage. The first that came to mind involves two kinds…
Like nearly every kid I knew growing up, I played baseball every spring and summer. And like almost no kids I knew growing up, I was awful at it. We used to get stats at the end of every season which objectively verified my subjective experience – I was the worst player on the team. Yet in the last few games of my 5th grade season my coach did something that made no sense…he moved me to the leadoff spot, usually reserved for one of the best hitters. I remember being shocked and angry, as was the rest of the team. Why would he put me in that position when it clearly made no sense? I could hear my team snickering and second-guessing the decision, and I proved them right and my coach wrong by finishing the season as poorly as I started it.
After that I decided that I was not going to play the next year. Why put myself through the futility? Of course, my mom convinced me that I should play one more season since it would be my last year before going to middle school and switching leagues. She said if I tried one more season and still felt the same way I could quit. So I reluctantly agreed.
When the next season started I couldn’t believe that my coach, despite my efforts to prove him wrong with my ineptitude the previous year, put me in the leadoff position to start the season. When I angrily asked him why, he told me he knew I could be a great leadoff hitter. Maybe it was because it was a new season and I felt like I had a clean slate, but I decided to see what I could do. Besides my mentality, I really only made two changes to what I did: I swallowed my ego and choked-up on the bat, admitting that I wasn’t the biggest and strongest hitter, and I listened to my coach’s very simple advice: “throw your wrists at the ball.”
I used to nervously look at the lineup when we were losing and count how many hitters were left before I was up, hoping I wouldn’t have a chance to lose the game for us. Well now I was leading off and the chance to blow the game was much larger. But I took a better attitude, a practical technique and some simple advice into the batter’s box with me. Those three things led me to have the best batting average on the team that season…and it wasn’t even close.
To this day, I still think back to how I was able to accomplish something I never thought I could by simplifying the process and by sticking with something. But more than that, I realized there were two kinds of courage at play: the courage to believe in yourself, and as often is necessary for that to happen, the courage of someone to believe in you. I find both are typically at the root of our greatest achievements.