Would you like a quick bite of advice? Go out and be courageous—in work, life, and even the small things!
An excerpt from the book I’m reading, The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric, here are a few inspiring words to share from Mrs. Anna Quindlen, bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
Courage is the Ultimate Career Move
by Anna Quindlen
Here is my favorite biblical direction: Be not afraid. It’s truly the secret of life. Fear is what stunts our growth, narrows our ambitions, kills our dreams.
So fear not.
Oh, I have enough of a memory of my own youth to know that that sounds preposterous. You are surely afraid: of leaving what you know, of seeking what you want, of taking the wrong path, of failing the right one. But you can’t allow any of that to warp your life. You must have the strength to say no to the wrong things and embrace the right ones, even if you are the only one who seems to know the difference, even if you find the difference hard to calculate.
Too often we still live with the pinched expectations of a culture of conformity, which sees daring as dangerous. Go along to get along: that’s its mantra. Only a principled refusal to be terrorized by these stingy standards will save you from a Frankenstein life made up of other people’s expectation grafted together into a poor imitation of existence. You can’t afford to do that. It is what has poisoned our culture, our community, and our national character. No one does the right thing from fear, and so many of the wrong things are done in its long shadow. Homophobia, racism, religious bigotry: they are all bricks in a wall that divides us, bricks cast of the clay of fear, fear of that which is different or unknown.
Too often our public discourse fears real engagement or discussion; it pitches itself at the lowest possible level, always preaching to the choir, so that no one will be challenged. Which usually means that no one will be interested. What is the point of free speech if we are always afraid to speak freely? If we fear competing viewpoints, if we fail to state the unpopular because of some sense of plain-vanilla civility, it is not civility at all. It is the denigration of the human capacity for thought. Open your mouth. Speak your piece. Fear not.
Remember Pinocchio? There is a Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder, giving the very best advice. It is you, your authentic self, the one you were in first grade, before you learned to massage your personality into a form that would suit others. Sometimes it’s hard to hear its message because all the external voices are so loud, so shrill, so adamant. Voices that loud are always meant to bully.
Do not be bullied.
Acts of bravery don’t always take place on the battlefields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and yes, your soul by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world. So carry your courage in an easily accessible place, the way you do your cellphone or your wallet. You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high. Take a leap of faith. Fear not. Courage is the ultimate career move.