I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams. ~ Oprah Winfrey
The online dictionary defines courage as “the ability to do something that frightens one”, or “strength in the face of pain or grief”.
As a child I would follow the rules presented by my elders or teachers because…that was expected, and it was ‘the right thing to do’. As a Marine I would follow the orders of my superior officers trusting that they knew what they were talking about and that the outcome would be a positive one and again, ‘it was the right thing to do’.
In both cases I chose to allow someone else to make the choice for me and it was the easy thing to do as I didn’t have to think about it. Granted, it was not always the safest thing to do and in a number of cases, not necessarily the best thing to do.
As Oprah indicated, following your own dreams means that while the path may intersect with known outcomes (going to school and taking predetermined classes resulting in obtaining a degree in a given subject) the path is yours alone. It’s sailing an uncharted sea, exploring new worlds of imagination. Not simply taking the path less traveled, but one that has never been forged at all!
Yes, there will also be those that can help you, but only you can make those final choices deciding on the direction you take. Only you can determine when to change direction or keep going. The courage to move forward in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles or pressure to abandon a course will involve sacrifice and sometimes grief or pain. In the midnight hour you may ask yourself, “Does anybody see what I see?” And, the answer may be no.
When you’re feeling like you “can’t” – here is a list of 20 individuals or groups that overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams:
- Helen Keller (deaf & blind)
- Beethoven (deaf at 26 and still went on to write one of his most famous works – the Ninth Symphony)
- Richard Branson (had dyslexia and his teachers said he wouldn’t amount to anything)
- Bethany Hamilton (surfer who’s arm was bitten off by a shark – Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (polio which resulted in being in a wheel chair)
- Aron Ralston (amputated his own arm to survive – Between a Rock and a Hard Place)
- Charles Dickens (suffered from epilepsy)
- Stevie Wonder (blind from birth)
- Abraham Lincoln (defeated in eight elections, failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown)
- Elvis Pressley (told he had no talent and to stick with driving a truck)
- Albert Einstein (didn’t speak until he was 4 and his teacher said he’d never amount to much)
- Dr. Seuss (rejected 27 times before his first children’s book was published
- Fred Astaire (director wrote that he couldn’t act, couldn’t sing and can dance a little)
- Steven Spielberg (rejected from Southern California University three times)
- Walt Disney (fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas”)
- The Beatles (turned down by a recording company saying, “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”)
- Michael Jordon (cut from his high school basketball team and went home, locked himself in his room and cried)
- Oprah Winfrey (fired from her first job on TV because she was “unfit for television”)
- Marlee Matlin (deaf actress)
- Thomas Edison (told by a teacher he was to stupid to learn anything)
What is your challenge?
Adversity provides you the opportunity to refine your vision. If you can keep the big picture clear and your faith is strong that this dream is part of what you were meant to bring to the world…then you owe it to yourself to keep moving forward. Do not let your life be filled with the words ‘if only…’ Overcoming the regret embedded in those words will additional courage since you will have to journey inward before moving on and like Luke Skywalker – you will meet your own Darth Vader.
If you are finding it challenging to find your purpose or uncover your unique dreams consider these few questions to help you along…
- What truly inspires me?
- What motivates me?
- What excites me about life?
- What brings me joy?
- How do I define happiness?
- If money was no object, how would I spend my time?
Wherever you are on the journey, trust that you’re on the right path to let your light shine and illuminate your part of the world. Dream big and — feel free to share your dreams with us.
Originally published on Reiki Healing and More Jan. 2015