Success: Just an Act of Courage Away
“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway,” answered John Wayne, as the interviewer began to draw the meeting to a close. To many people, courage is building up the nerve to do something that could be risky. But to me, courage plays a determining role in a person’s search for success. It seems that all society cares about having nowadays is fame, money, and success. Human beings have somehow taken this subjective idea of what courage is and evolved it into a word that can only be defined by money, fame, and earthly possessions. Therefore, at some point in your life you will probably find yourself wondering (if you haven’t already) and hoping to answer the question, “What would it take to be successful?” The way Alexander the Great conquered the nations around the Mediterranean, Bill Gates dominated the computer industry, my Asian Studies project group aced our project, and James in the Bible taught us to have faith reveal the most important factor to achieving success: having the courage to act upon an ambitious idea.
Strong connections between success and courage were unveiled and made clear to me in The Greeks: A Great Adventure, by Isaac Asimov, the story of the great and all-powerful Alexander III of Macedon. Born in Pella to King Philip II of Macedon, Alexander was immediately thrown into a world of great riches and power (Asimov 210). Under the wing of his tutor, Aristotle, Alexander fell in love with the works of Homer, especially the Iliad (211). Thus, inspired by the war heroes from his storybooks and pure hunger, Alexander headed out on a conquest to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of expanding his father’s empire. After dying from a fever at the age of 33, Alexander left behind a large legacy; his empire stretched from Macedonia all the way to the edge of India (223). The odds were against him; however, he wasn’t fearful of anyone, not even the mighty mass of the Persian Empire (214-218). Therefore, with a bit of luck and a dash of genius, Alexander was able to win every battle; becoming one of the greatest military leaders of all time.
Before rising up to revolutionize the world with his ingenious ideas, the affluent Bill gates started off as an ordinary boy. At just seventeen years of age, Bill Gates had already sold his first computer program (“Profile: Bill Gates”). In the next three years, he and his friend, Paul Allen, designed the world’s first computer language program, now known as Microsoft. Taking an unimaginable risk, Bill Gates audaciously decided to throw away his education by dropping out of Harvard and establishing a company for Microsoft (“Profile: Bill Gates”). Today, Bill Gates is one of the richest and most successful men to have set foot on earth. As of September 2013, he was deemed to have a net worth of 72 billion US dollars (“Bill Gates”). If Bill Gates hadn’t taken the chance to jump in headfirst, as an act of courage towards pursuing his dreams, he would most likely be the ordinary boy, just grown up. Without his various contributions to technology and courageous spirit, millions of us would probably not even have access to a computer.
Ending the 2013 school year with an A+ in Asians Studies was something I had never anticipated. Students enrolled in this course were put into groups and given a topic for further research for an exam grade. The teacher also provided multiple presentation ideas; however, it seemed as if everyone had already chosen subconsciously to create a simple, easy, and dull poster lacking both creativity and ingenuity. I, on the other hand, had a bigger vision for my group. Feeling a rare sense of creativity burning passion in my bones, I had a desire to make a stop-motion video for my group’s presentation. Stop-motion videos require a multitudinous amount of time, patience, and effort. It was by far not the most appealing option to my group members. However, I persisted with my idea and we miraculously managed to complete this project before the deadline. After a long period of time filled with doubt and nervous jitters, the project was finally graded. To everyone’s delight, my group surprisingly received an A+ for our project. It was only through our courage to seize this challenge that we were able to end the year on a successful note.
James instructs the world to put faith into action in the verses James 2:14-17. He wrote, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (Bible Gateway). These verses prove the truth behind the importance of taking action and running with an idea. There is no outcome or benefit for those who do not act out in faith and courage. If no one is willing to take the risk, then faith is surely “dead”; nothing will come out of something that isn’t pursued. Even if one were bound to fail, he or she would never know the outcome of the effort given if the chance wasn’t taken.
To get the chance to smother one’s face in success, one must tackle an ambitious idea with bravery and fearlessness. This is proven by the stories of the strong-willed Alexander the Great, the vigorous Bill Gates, my audacious Asian Studies group, and the philosophical James, who teaches to act on faith. Therefore, instead of sitting back and watching our mediocre lives race by, we must grasp each opportunity by the scruff of the neck and chase it down as if our lives depend on it. Courage is being scared to death and still saddling up, because without saddling up, we could never ride off into the sunset with the wind in our hair and know what it fully feels like to fly.
“50 Best Success Quotes of All Time.” Under30CEO. N.p., 24 Aug. 2009. Web. 09 Dec. 2013. <http://under30ceo.com/50-best-success-quotes-of-all-time/>.
Asimov, Isaac. The Greeks; a Great Adventure. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Print.
“Bible Gateway.” New International Version (NIV Bible). The Zondervan Corporation, 1993. Web. 01 Dec. 2013. <http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/>.
“Bill Gates.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates/>.
“Profile: Bill Gates.” BBC News. BBC, 26 Jan. 2004. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3428721.stm>.