The key to making progress
Aaron Feis was a football coach for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and he died in the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida trying to protect two students by using his body to shield them from gunfire.
I can’t imagine what was going through his mind at the moment, but I know the most common reaction when first realizing that a situation like this is going on is fear.
It’s the classic fight or flight response.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Feis was afraid as well, but even though he may have had fear creeping up on him, he decided to be courageous anyway. He easily could’ve run away to try and save his own life, but he sacrificed it instead to protect others.
Fear always brings selfish thoughts. That’s the whole purpose of fear. It’s for your own survival.
So if fear’s original purpose is to keep us alive, why are we so inspired by stories of courageous acts?
It’s because courage involves being selfless in spite of the fear.
Courage isn’t concerned about what people might think of you or how foolish you may look if you fail. It’s concerned about serving a purpose that’s much more greater than just yourself.
Chances are when you’re disengaged at your day job, you imagine how nice it would be to one day achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Then you get pulled back to reality as your manager gives you another pile of work to do.
Years pass by, but you’re not any closer to where you want to be with your life and you wonder why.
You’re life just doesn’t feel like it matters enough yet.
You want to make more money.
You want to pursue a different career.
You want to become successful like all the rich and famous people you see on the media.
Beneath all the reasons you tell yourself why the different life you want is not possible, the most underlying reason is one main thing. It’s because you’re scared.
I’m right there with you.
I’ve been scared my whole life, but when I quit my high paying job to pursue my dreams of becoming a full-time filmmaker, it changed my life forever.
I fell in love with great storytelling and learning about the basics of story is what taught me about how people can become the courageous characters of their own personal stories in real life.
If you don’t know this already, I’m about to tell you a fact that may ruin every great movie for you so don’t read on if you don’t want to know.
Every great movie has a main character who very badly wants something and he overcomes a crapload of challenges to achieve it.
Think about it. All these conflicts are what make a story interesting. No one wants to watch a movie about a guy who just clocks in and out of the same job for 40 years and then retires to binge watch Netflix until he dies.
I realized my story was boring because I was afraid to face the challenges that were preventing me from figuring out how to live a life where I felt fully alive.
As I learned how to become a screenwriter, there was one key question that always needed to be answered correctly in order for it to be an amazing story that keeps people at the edges of their seats.
This foundational question can be a powerful question that can be asked in our own lives to ensure the amount of growth we are looking for.
What’s at Stake For the Character Not to Embark on His Journey?
A hero never steps up to the scary journey he has ahead of him unless he clearly knows the important things that are at stake.
If the stakes are not high enough, the hero usually gives in his to fear and doesn’t take action.
For example, in action films, what’s usually at stake is people will die and the world will end, so the hero must step up to save them by entering into a lot of great kickass fight scenes with the villains.
While most of our lives aren’t action films, your whole future is at stake if you don’t take action to work towards the life you were meant to live.
So what’s at stake for you if you chicken out from doing something that matters deeply to you?
The biggest regrets people have on the deathbed are most commonly related to things they didn’t do as opposed to things they did do.
In the beginning of every great film, the main characters is always conflicted when the story begins. He’s scared, but he decides to embark on his journey anyway and eventually finds something more important to him than the fear.
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future.”
— M. Scott Peck
Feis was aware if he were to take the cowards way out and run away to try and only protect himself, more people might die.
There was something much more important to him despite any fear that might be hitting him at the moment.
Fear Will Always be There
Whenever the main character starts their journey, they do it even though there afraid anyway because there is something that matters to them enough to take the risk.
It’s not about overcoming your fears, it’s about connecting deeply with what matters to you most so you have the resolve to fight for it even though you’re scared.
Surpirisingly, when you do this, your fears don’t affect you as much anymore. You may be afraid of failing, but when you do fail, you use it as an opportunity to learn and grow so you can move towards success.
The world needs you to be fully alive because there are way too many complacent people who aren’t bringing out their potential. Whether it’s the business you haven’t started yet, the book you haven’t published yet or the technology you haven’t created yet, there are lives that could be changed if only you took action even if it was a small courageous step you took each day.
The fear will never go away, but your best future will if you don’t do anything about it. That is what’s at stake here.
So what do you have to lose?
Will you fight or will you flee?