A few days ago I read a story of a New York City ballet dancer who rescued a man who’d been pushed onto the subway tracks. Before jumping down to save the man, the dancer, Gray Davis, said he hesitated for a moment to see if anyone else was going to help.
No one did. So Mr. Davis risked his life and saved another’s, and lived to tell the tale.
Two things struck me about this story as almost universal. First of all, the rescuer’s hesitation before acting. We all know that hesitation, whether we’ve been in a life-or-death situation, or have been simply afraid to step forward in some way, apart from the crowd. It feels wise – and perhaps for a time it is wise – to wait and see if someone else is going to step up and do the thing that needs to be done.
And then there’s the reason the story was written in the first place. Because someone did take action. A man leapt bravely into a place of leadership, because someone had to. He stepped away from the crowd and saved someone’s life. And that happened because in a moment of deciding what to do, Mr. Davis chose risk instead of safety. And it made all the difference.
And sometimes, the ability to take action feels life-or-death, or certainly life changing. So you hesitate. To write that book that has been swirling around inside your heart for years. To get on that stage and share your story of tragedy and triumph that will inspire and help others. To sit in a television studio, owning your expertise, doing a live interview that, for all you know, could be life-or-death for someone in the audience.
You tell yourself to wait. Surely someone else will step into that space. Someone else will fill that need. Someone who knows more. Someone with more education. More confidence.
Someone more worthy of being listened to. Right?
I can tell you right now that you are worthy. I know you are. But chances are, my words won’t have much impact. A sense of personal value is deeply rooted and intrinsic. I cannot give it to you. But I do suspect that on some level, you feel called to step into a particular space. That very calling speaks to how valuable you are, much better than my words ever could. I urge you to listen to that voice. You have a sense of purpose because you know you can make an impact.
Yet, you hesitate.
Now don’t get me wrong. Hesitation has a purpose. It gives you a chance to pause for a moment and evaluate the situation. Assess the risks. Make a decision. And then act.
Because act you must.
That’s where the courage comes in. I used to think of courage as something I needed in order to step out of my comfort zone so I could write a book, do media interviews, or get on stage in front of a thousand people and speak. Then I realized something – and it’s a game changer.
Courage is not about worthiness. It’s about need.
Courage doesn’t shout, “I’ll show you that I’m good enough!” Often, it speaks in a quieter voice saying, “I don’t know if I’m the best person for the job, but clearly there’s a need, and I’m going to step up because my words, my pain, my vulnerability, and my message might help you.”
Courage is deciding. Stepping up. Leaping in. Taking action.
There is movement in courage.
Where will your courage take you?