On being brave
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
My Master Prof in University used to say, "Be brave." I was the only female, at the time, in his advanced studies program, one of a very few women in the Graduate Studies program, and the only woman in his Foreign Studies program traveling to the Middle East. It took being brave and fearless to do this.
When as a kid on vacation with my family at a ranch in California, I clung to a runaway cow pony that took a turn toward the highway before coming back around and charging toward the pen of a horse he wasn't friendly with. Option 1: hang on, jump the fence and be in the middle of angry horses, or, Option 2: I go one way and he jumps the fence. I took Option 2; the horse immediately stopped (I later learned that's what the cow ponies are trained to do). Boy, was I madder than Hades! Scolding the animal at the top of my lungs, I got back in the saddle and took off, this time with me in charge. The ranch hand, who had been scared out of his mind that I'd be badly hurt, started laughing and commented on how brave I was. Well, you have to get back on that horse, or forever be afraid.
Last season, while training for a Half Ironman, I suffered 6 (!) bike crashes in a row over the 6 weeks leading up to the event. The last one shook me up so badly, and caused a lot of physical pain, that I was afraid to get back on my bike. I did make it to the Triathlon the following weekend, but, injuries kept me from doing the long distance; so, I struggled through the Sprint. But, it took a couple of minutes in the bike start chute to take the first pedal stroke. I just had to get "mad" at my bike. (I still shake for a minute or two, every time I get on my bike; still not completely over the fear of crashing!)
My daughter was suffering terrible, bloody blisters on the bottom of her feet during one of our marathons together. I always carry a few blister bandages and treated her feet at mile 14, again at mile 20. She wouldn't quit shuffling along in spite of her pain and we finished together. That was being brave.
As a Lupus patient and supportive of the Foundation, I wear a special silver bracelet, called a Bravelet, that reads, "Be Brave." Living with SLE is no fun.
This week, someone at work turned cowardly about an innovative idea I presented to my upper management and that he had been so eager to participate in. He bailed, when reminded about rules we need to follow, and because this is to be such a hugely risky test, and threw me under the bus. Fortunately, I have the support up the chain of my own command; just have to find another person who will be able to take the lead at the event (I won't be there).
Some who put up a brave first face are too cowardly to keep it, and will throw you under the bus in order to "save" face; they never learned how to be brave with a risk worth taking. The guy cowers when he walks past my office, which he has to in order to reach the closest exit to the hall.
To "be brave" takes a certain amount of trust, not only in oneself, but also in another, and earns respect. Trust has been a hot topic at work, and this guy, who has a very visible position in my department and led a discussion among us on the leadership team, just lost it...and my respect.