This past weekend, with my mother in the crowd, I had the great honor and privilege of sending off Northwestern College’s class of 2014! This was certainly one of the most memorable exhilarating experiences of my life. I shared a message about the “Daring Soul”. After thanking Ali Baker, one of Northwestern College’s professors who actually submitted my name to be considered a speaking candidate, I flashed back to two years ago.
The Dare: What happened two years ago?
I was one of the last readers of a poetry reading event. I’d never done an event like it. But I wanted to. I felt that if I hadn’t challenged myself to do something as bold as share the message of HEROmanity with a community of strangers, then I couldn’t say I believed in it. So, there I was standing in front of a crowd that I’d felt perhaps I didn’t belong in front of, but knew I needed to be before in order to break through a courage threshold. And minutes later I was done with sharing excerpts from my book. As a matter of fact here’s part of what I shared:
As the world accelerates to a warp-speed rate of change, I am in some cases, fearful, anxious, uncertain, worried, concerned, and confused. In other instances I am inspired, joyful, and hopeful with an embedded layer of insecurity and uneasiness. Wherever we find ourselves on the spectrum of these emotions, I think we would all agree that the world as we once knew it or now know it is changing. It has changed between when you started reading and this very moment; and again, this same world that you knew seconds ago has transformed and predictably will continue to do so without you realizing or being aware of it. This is not comforting to those who feel that they’re already behind the times. Consider the following: It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million people, TV only 13 years, the internet 4 years, iPod 3 years, and Facebook 2 years. Google+ will take 3 months! The top ten ‘in demand’ jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. The US Dept of Labor says that today’s students will have 10-14 jobs by the time they are 38 yrs old. It used to be 1 to 3 jobs. Tech information is doubling every 2 years – so college freshmen expect a refresh in their junior year.
Within the context of a world experiencing this rate of change, a few questions to consider are as follows:
How am I going to make it, live, thrive or survive in a world where my reference points of existence and life are constantly shifting?
How do I maintain my sanity in this world? How do I honor my power, my freedom, and my peace of mind? How do I raise children or lead a family in this world? Get healthcare? Get educated? Retire? Get hired? Save? Spend? Invest? I do not know or have all the answers to these questions; and I assert that you do not know either. At best, I pretend I know and try to get answers before anyone notices, which further heightens my experience of falsehood, anxiety and constriction. The same applies to you as you are doing your best to manage your life and feel flooded with helplessness and despair.
But there’s hope – NOT the cop-out “this too shall pass” or contrived hope that we have come to be cynical of and pretend we are not about, but REAL hope – a genuine intention-filled hope. This is the kind of hope that in my heart of hearts gets me up in the morning and to go to task although I think the world’s screwed up at times. This kind of hope allows me to go to sleep at night sometimes with a seed of vision that there could be a future where peace of mind is the norm. Because, what I know in my core is that I have two children – two daughters ages 5 years and 3 years old to provide for. I also know that I love them deeply. Likewise, I know that if I am going to honor and stay true to this deep love I profess, I am willing to do whatever it takes to deal with, confront, and take my baggage out of the way in order to connect with them as their father and first love. I know this. I can do this. And the hope that I have for their future and growth is grounded in this inner knowing.
That Ain’t Poetry…
If you’re a poet. You know this is not your typical poem. Some would even say, it’s not a poem at all. But perhaps this is what made the move to read it publicly a bold self-dare. I had all the reasons in my head why I had no business reading or sharing this. But I did it anyway. And this is what perhaps touched Ali to reach out to me and invite me to speak to her class.
Two years later, after going back and forth and trying to coordinate an optimal time to speak to her class – the opportunity never surfaced. However, what did happen was that she read my book, HEROmanity: 24 Hours to a HEROic Life. And after reading it was inspired enough to submit my name to the committee responsible for selecting their next commencement speaker.
Fate had me show up at the poetry reading. Soul moved me to go and share my story. And this past weekend, Destiny had me stand up before a crowd of nearly 1,000 to share about my life witnessing my father survive a heart and kidney transplant.
This is how dares work. They give you a great reason to get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and sometimes touch the lives of others.
I’m truly thankful for that dare. And I pass the challenge on to those who should read this: What do you need to dare yourself to do but haven’t?
Today is a good day to do it.
To Your Bold and Daring Future,