Courage reveals itself in many ways. Sometimes it’s the courage to get up out of bed and face a challenging day. It might be the courage to walk away from a situation that doesn’t serve you when it would be easier to stay. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you may face a split second decision that could mean saving a stranger’s life.
Years ago, we took a summer vacation to a lake resort. Our cabins ringed a beach on the shores of Leech Lake, one of the largest lakes in Minnesota. It was a hot summer day. A storm was brewing. Our kids were small and we were playing on the beach. My husband and my father were fishing out on the lake.
The sky started to roll and took on a greenish tinge. Cold, hard rain began to fall. We grabbed up all the beach toys, hustled the kids into the largest cabin, and convinced them to all go into an inner bathroom, away from windows. We kept a nervous eye out for the fishermen to return. Massive waves battered the shoreline. It was a dangerous situation, made worse because they weren’t familiar with the lake.
We breathed a sigh of relief when we saw them coming in, their boat tossed around like a toy. We watched through windows facing the lake, wind making the glass tremble. The resort owner met them on shore. We assumed he would help them secure the boat. Instead, he was making huge motions with his arms and pointing toward the horizon. To our dismay, the boat turned around and headed back out, over the angry waves. The owner remained on shore, watching, pacing. Something was wrong and we were terrified.
We learned there was another boat, stranded out on the lake. The guide, who'd been taking a mother and two children out fishing, couldn't find his way back in the storm. Having no other options and little time, the panicked owner asked our guys to go help them.
The minutes dragged on. We couldn’t see much through the storm. A huge branch broke off behind the cabins and smashed down on someone’s pickup. Where were they?
Finally, we could see them heading back in, guiding a smaller boat. Later, they’d tell us how the kids had been huddled under a tarp in the bottom of the boat, terrified. Huge waves and pouring rain threatened to swamp their boat, making it heavy and hard to manuever. The guide had no GPS and was disoriented in the storm. The mother was so scared she wanted to try to jump into the larger boat. Dad convinced her to stay put. My husband used his GPS and larger boat to help guide the smaller boat back to the resort.
The whole situation could have had a tragic ending, but because two men never hesitated when faced with a potentially life or death situation, everyone survived that summer storm.
The appreciation shown to the rescuers was a powerful thing for our kids to witness, as was their act of bravery. People could have died if there would have been any hesitation.
Sometimes an act of courage can save a stranger’s life. Sometimes it can save your own. The danger may be imminent or it may be something else entirely. You may need to take a deep breath, muster up your own courage, and make a difficult decision because your heart tells you a change is necessary to improve your life.
I love this quote from A. Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Choose to live bravely. Expand your life. Cheering you on, Kim
Are you competitive? Is competition good or bad?
Some types of competition are certainly fun. I’m not much of a professional football fan but you can’t beat a playoff game to get into the Super Bowl between the Vikings and the Eagles when you live in a neighboring state to Minnesota (Skol!) and a young man from your state has done a phenomenal job in Philadelphia (proud of you, Carson). It promises to be an exciting evening.
But let me get back to my initial questions. Personally, I think competition has a place in life but it can be detrimental if we’re not extremely careful.
We’ve all heard the stories about, and probably witnessed, parents going crazy at their young children’s sporting events. When taken to such extremes, these high levels of competitiveness can strip all the joy out of participating in the sports. We need to remember it’s called playing basketball, or playing hockey, or playing football for a reason. Kids can learn to work as a team, get some exercise and build memories of fun and friendship that can last a lifetime if they can just play. But when sports are taken too seriously, starting with both parents and coaches, participating in a sport can start to feel like a chore for the kids and it’s no longer fun. The true benefits of participating in a sport are often, sadly, lost.
People will argue that kids need to learn to be tough and competitive so they can survive as adults in the real world. Really?
Kids do need to learn many things to live a happy, successful, productive life but I would argue that the need to dominate over everyone else, to be better than everyone else, is not one of those critical lessons. Almost three decades of working in the real world has taught me that some of the most important life skills include the ability to work with others, offer a hand up to those in need, and to learn how to be compassionate servant leaders. Even in fields deemed to be populated with extremely competitive people, it’s usually those individuals that are really good at helping others that succeed in the long run.
Many people around here are proud of Carson Wentz. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, Carson grew up in North Dakota and played quarterback for the NDSU Bison. He went on to be a second round draft pick a couple of years ago. He’s played well, but his notoriety is about so much more than football. He is a young man of strong convictions. He has made special connections with fans, especially ones suffering devastating personal hardships. He’s used his success to help many and acts as a leader, both on and off the field.
Because so much of our world is based on competition and “the hype”, it can be a struggle to remember it isn’t all about being number one. Can you imagine how different the state of the world might be if more people instead focused on personal growth? What if we worked to learn from our “competition” instead of working to beat them? Trying to be the best at anything is exhausting and quite literally impossible in a world made up of billions of people. But if each person instead worked to be a little better today than they were yesterday, and that was their own personal measurement of success, it would be so much easier to feel a sense of self-awareness and accomplishment.
I’m trying to focus on becoming a better writer. This means I need to write every day, read and learn from more experienced writers, and keep it fun by writing about things that excite me. While I learn how to write and publish books, I’m crossing paths with others that want to do the same. It’s so fun to be part of something bigger and learn alongside others.
If you like to paint or sell things or teach others, try to do things every day that make you a little better at it then you were yesterday. Help more people do the same. Then enjoy the sense of personal fulfillment you will feel because you’ve made this world a little brighter than it was yesterday. Everyone wins!
Cheering you on, Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!