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Columbus Day: Discovering Courage


Today we celebrate Columbus Day in America. For many school kids that means a day away from studies. They might even have gotten a short lesson on Columbus and the importance his voyages played in world history.  I fear, however, that they are missing a far more important lesson… the lesson on courage.

Courage is one of the most important qualities we can possess. For without it, so few of the others can exist. You need courage to persevere, to love, etc. Since so much of what we face is coupled with a given amount of risk, we must have the courage to accept it in order to progress.

I was fortunate enough to have a strong role model growing up who made it very clear that all things are possible. Very often the only thing that stands between us and our goal is fear. You may have read here before ‘be fearless’ in design or cooking. That merely means to have bravery and daring. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with fear. Courage doesn’t mean a lack of fear. It means being afraid and pressing on anyway. Taking calculated risks is what moves people from safe to successful.

As parents, we have done our best to create a world where kids feel safe. In many elementary schools choosing ‘winners’ is avoided to protect feelings. The world can be a tough place. Kids need good coping skills and the courage to stick their necks out a bit and take some risks. Many kids will take the path more traveled and never become what they are meant to be without someone to show them that courage is king.

We all know this already, but sometimes we need a gentle reminder… or someone in our corner. Someone once told me ‘success is not final and failure is not fatal.’ I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. They are necessary to grow. My advice to young people, including my kids, is:

  • find something you love
  • align yourself with the right people
  • be kind
  • be grateful
  • and never never give up 


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