Friday, January 2, 2015

Finding Courage to Make Change

Bill proudly wears a gold loop earring in his left ear he's entitled to wear as a member of a very exclusive club -- one of only a handful of sailors who have demonstrated the courage to face (and survive) the treacherous eastbound passage around Cape Horn.   His talk begins in the dark with a dizzying, fear-inducing, floor-to-ceiling video shot off the bow of his sailboat as he faces 60 ft. (19 m) seas.  After a few nauseous minutes the lights come up slightly and Bill appears in front of the waves to ask for a show of hands from those in the audience who think it takes courage to sail in these seas -- alone.  
Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. -- Wikipedia

What are you afraid of?

So facing 60 ft.(19 m) seas, would you be afraid?  Don't be too quick to answer yet.

What about this -- are you afraid to take action to ruffle feathers, say no, make waves, rabble rouse, volunteer,  protest, change the rules, or make a scene?  Would you be any less fearful if your gut was telling you these were the right actions to take?  

Fear is very powerful -- it can paralyze.  It's no wonder then that it's the primary tool used by those who wish to suppress change.  Sadly, the Politics of Fear is actually even defined as a style of leadership. The idea is that causing fear induces a reaction that leads you to run away, hide or freeze --  it's a perfect recipe to ensure nothing will change.

The answer.

So back to our audience, everyone raised their hands.  The lights come up full, and Bill points back to the massive waves and surprisingly says, "That? That doesn't take courage! You don't have time for fear when you're facing those conditions. That? That's reflexes. Trusting in all the knowledge and life experiences that have led you up to that point to carry you through. It's about trusting in yourself, your gut, your talent."

Capt. William Bill Pinkney at the helm of his sailboat
CAPTAIN William "Bill" Pinkney

His story is a demonstration that it is possible to use the trust that you have in yourself, your own skills and reflexes to overcome the fear that surrounds making change.

Then he finally, during a moment of rapt attention, finishes by saying, "I'll tell you what does take courage... leaving the dock."

So, bon voyage as you embark on a passage to leave the status quo behind.

What does your dock look like?  Feel free to comment below.

Bill is Capt. William "Bill" Pinkney,  the first African-American to sail solo around the world via Cape Horn. I brought him in to speak at a series of sales conferences in Florida and had nine days to hear his fascinating tales. You can read more about him here and here. 

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Positive success stories are welcome.