Do Courage to Gain Confidence

What is life? (Baby, don’t hurt me…)

On David DeAngelo’s ‘On Being A Man’ program, he has a guest, Dr. Paul Dobransky, M.D., where he asks this very question. His very answer is:

Life is irritable.

This response is biological (bad pun alert) in nature (sorry), in that lifeforms will purposefully interact with the environment. The environment does something to the life form, and the life form makes a decision to do something else, versus a rock, in his example, which does anything a rock does, passively. Come to think of it, rocks don’t really do; things are done unto rocks. (How embarrassing: rocks can’t even decide to rock out!) Thus, this answer evolves to:

Life makes decisions.

From here, one could say if one stops making decisions, one is dead. One could also say if one makes lots of decisions, one is more alive. And oh man, are some of those decisions not easy to make, usually because of fear. In these cases, to do what is right, even if you are afraid, requires courage. Leaning into this a little more, if you muster courage to do that thing of which you are afraid, you will gain confidence, regardless of the result. For example, if you hate public speaking, yet you speak publicly and flub epically, you just publicly spoke, and your next public speech will be much easier than the first, as would any other kind of speech, especially private speeches.

Onto the blog post title. First of all, you can’t do courage – that makes no sense. You can do courageous acts, but that just doesn’t sound as cool. So, as per Dr. Paul, to gain confidence, y’gotta do courage, which means you’re making decisions, and truly living, by definition. Let’s massage these ideas a little more.

(Explanatory side note: Once upon a time, there was a final exam for Thermodynamics, the class that gives you practical knowledge like the ability to figure out how much energy is necessary to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. I stayed up all night, studying, which was the wrong thing to do. I should’ve checked my email at 8:30 the night before, like the other kids, to read an email from the TA who felt sorry for us, which shared the focus of the test, which were the areas I studied the least, which I found out 30 minutes before the test. Wonderful. I sat with the exam and went to war, the sheet of equations given to us as weapons, and in my tired stupor, I stared at both sets of dead tree. I proclaimed that there was no choice but for everything to make sense, since it’s just cherry picking the appropriate formulas and mathematically mushing ’em together. That was my most memorable private speech and is my default blogging manner, weaving concepts into evolving themes as I validate ScrumOfOne.)

If you are proactive, then you are making decisions, truly living.
If you are courageous, then you are making hard decisions, truly living and gaining confidence.

In my last post, I commented on how doing something, anything, makes you a better person. I like the much simpler thought track in today’s post: doing something, anything, means you are alive, where the more you do, the more alive you are.

A few months back, I commented on a New York Times interview piece, where “the very act of deciding takes courage, since every action has an opportunity cost“. This expands the association of courage to not just decisions that are difficult due to fear, but to decisions in light of context: you are simultaneously deciding what NOT to do. Now, I don’t think you’d really grow your trove of confidence via decisions that are courageous in this broader sense, but the point of that post was the value of prioritization.

Back-tracking to the better accepted connotation of courage, let’s wrap this puppy up with the following:

Do you want to gain confidence?
Make those hard decisions.
Do courage.

That is life.