“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” (James Neil Hollingworth) The modern day warrior recognizes this and understands that courage is working through one’s fears.
Anyone who goes through basic training in the Navy, known as boot camp, must do a qualifying swim. The swim includes going up onto the diving board, jumping off and swimming to the side.
In the pool, there were at least four or five trained swimmers and at least the same number outside of the pool. This is to insure the safety of the swimmers. Some of the trainees were called “non-swims,” young men who had never learned to swim in their lives. These guys would go up on the diving board and peer with skin pale from fear down at the water. You could see their knees almost knocking. When told to jump in they would say things like “I can’t swim”, or “The water’s too deep”. Any excuse to avoid going into the water.
The instructors were great motivators. They could often persuade the man on the diving board to jump in. Usually they would say “Either you jump in or you’ll end up doing extra duty” Or, “If you don’t jump we’ll have you do push ups until your arms fall off. So, faced with this choice, most of the “non-swims” would jump into the water. But there were a few who just wouldn’t jump.
After reasoning with the recruit for a few minutes, one of the instructors would “accidentally” push the trainee off the diving board and into the water. What was amazing was that more than 50% of these “non-swims” hit the water and made it over to the side unaided. A few of them actually seemed to walk on water. These young men who were afraid to go into the water were motivated to swim. They were doing something that just a very few moments ago they were afraid of.
How often have we been afraid of something, lacking the confidence to try because “the water is too deep” or “I can’t swim”? What is it that you’d like to achieve but you haven’t the confidence? Are you going to jump in by yourself or are you going to wait for someone to push you?
You see, courage comes from action, not vice versa. You must do what you are afraid of to show courage. You don’t catch courage first. You’ve got to jump off the diving board if you’re ever going to swim to the side.