Both our past and contemporary world is full of leaders that one could emulate for positive model of vision, courage, and perseverance. The order of these highest human’s virtues were not chosen carelessly, because we truly believe that one must have a vision for life first, then armed themselves with the courage to follow such vision, and finally persevere at all costs for its attainment. Such vision and passion for life were laid before us by great leaders such as Martin Luther King who once said: “if a person is not ready to die for something, they are not fit to live”. Such statement is echoed through the lives of many other great leaders and the one that inevitably comes to mind is Nelson Mandela.
This article is written in honor of the vision, courage, and perseverance of one of the greatest visionary of our times, the late Madiba. Both during his life and after his death, the question that came to everyone’s mind remains the same: how can someone sacrifice over a quarter century of his life for an ideal? As humans, the answer to such question could be an existential one for us and resides in the core of human nature to find meaning for our life.
The same existential yearning could be illustrated through the life of many other Mandela’s predecessors such as Gandhi who brought the great British empire to its knees through a non-violence movement; Abraham Lincoln who had the courage to stand against the institution of slavery in the United States; Martin Luther King who followed his dream of an unsegregated nation, and gave his life for such vision. We are going to borrow some life’s rules from a more contemporary leader whose life inspired us, especially for many of us immigrants, to live a more meaningful life, of vision, courage and perseverance, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are Arnold’s six rules:
- Trust Yourself: in the process of living our vision, nothing is more important that trusting ourselves, because many opportunities to doubt ourselves will arises especially when faced with challenges and difficulties along the path. But as the late Steve Job put it: “we must believe that somehow the dots will connect. Believing that the dots will connect down the road, give us the courage to “keep on keeping on”.
- Break Some Rules: many of us are content with being obedient soldiers of a culture, traditions, and societal expectations that do not serve human development and growth, and worse stifle them. We must have the courage to listen to our inner voice, even if it means breaking the normal societal rules, and expectations. As Sue Patton Thoele puts it in her book The Courage To Be Yourself: “until we are able to be our unique and beautiful (and, sometimes, ugly and mundane) selves, we cannot truly love either ourselves or others, and love is what life is all about”.
- Don’t Be Afraid to fail: certainly the ingredient of living your vision successfully for the bends along the road are not the end to the road, but to the contrary opportunities to readjust and get back on the right track. Remember the great wisdom of Mandela: “The greatest glory of life does not lie in never falling but in being able to get up every time we fall”
- Don’t listen to the Nay Sayers: no matter what vision you may have in life, there will always be people telling that it cannot be done. The yay within should be stronger than the Nay without, for us to stand any chance of staying on course. As M. Scott Peck exposed in his memorable book, The Road Less Traveled: “examination of the world without is never as personally painful as examination of the world within, and it is certainly because of the pain involved in a life of genuine self-examination that the majority steer away from it”.
- Work Your Butt off: we should never fail to accomplish our vision because of laziness, procrastination, or lack of hard work. We should not leave any stone unturned as Arnold said and must learn to go pass the pain of hard work to be able to climb to the light.
- Give Back: certainly one of the most important ingredients of all six is to be able to give back to our family, community, nations, and the world. A prove that our vision has survived the challenges of times and has become a reality through the legacy to our children, nation, and the world for many generations to come.
Question: What is your definition of courage and how do you live it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.