“Toil and risk are the price of glory, but it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame.”
Alexander the Great
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I would rather die right then live wrong.”
Well. I believe Alexander’s full quote was:
It is a lovely thing to live with great courage and to die leaving an everlasting fame,
Macedonians!… Why do you retreat?!… Do you want to live forever?!
In the name of Zeus!… ATTACK!
So. I tend to call this “selective thoughtful recklessness.” Yeah. I am not really sure something exactly like that exists but, whether it has a name or not, it is a characteristic of winners and ‘everlasting fame’ as well as a characteristic of everyday schmucks like me who want to do the right thing, desire some everlasting fame as in ‘known for doing good shit the right way’ and am willing to work hard for it <that is the ‘toil’ part>.
This may sound a little crazy, but I do believe if you are dedicated to doing the right thing and doing good shit you have to be comfortable assuming some risk.
I get some shit for my ‘comfort with assuming risk’ <I believe security is, if not an illusion, mostly a superstition keeping people scared of shit>, my attitude in general with regard to risk, and my general disdain for people who have the absurd principle of ‘making a decision instinctually.’ All that said. I came up with my own phrase – selective thoughtful recklessness. This combination seems to me to be better than simply being rash or foolhardy in behavior. It is better because I have a full respect for consequences and hold consequences in high regard.
To be clear. There is never any absence of forethought <which is where I typically find ‘instinct’ fails miserably>. I certainly have extreme care and concern with respect to not only other people’s welfare but my own. Sure, yes, there may be a bit of daredevil in the attitude but without the flair and debonair style associated with a daredevil.
What is there is a certain defiance to odds once a decision has been made and a complete “In for a penny, in for a pound” attitude. <Cambridge Dictionary: something you say that means that since you have started something or are involved in it, you should complete the work although it has become more difficult or complicated than you had expected >.
My epitaph will absolutely be “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world”, but my mantra seems to be captured in what I said upfront … “I would rather die right then live wrong.” That is not courage, nor is it an attitude, it is a choice that simply requires some mental resilience. You feel doubt, resistances to choice and even outright disagreement but someone who embraces the selective thoughtful recklessness remains mentally resilient towards anything that attempts to stop you from doing what you believe, and maybe even know, is right.
And maybe that is where the thoughtful daredevilishness steps in.
In order to find glory <in this case I believe glory is ‘doing what is right’ and not some fame or accolades> you have to first & foremost reframe the story of what is and what is possible. I am not suggesting some alternative universe nor am I suggesting fooling yourself into believing something truly impossible is possible. This is more along the lines of the traditional disruptor definition — seeing the conventional in unconventional ways. By reframing the story the boundaries & limits in the original story become new & different boundaries & limits. Rarely do they align with the old ones and it is within these differences that the ‘thoughtful reckless’ wander.
Let’s call it ‘intense listening without attachment.’
What I mean by this is you have to be aware of everything going on around you, but you do not necessarily get attached to what is being said. It’s like recognizing the clutter around you and rummaging thru it for the useful and avoiding the useless. This would also include at least being aware of your own biases and trying to un-attach your listening from them as much as possible.
Here is maybe the most controversial thought I will share on finding glory.
Be small. Yeah. I just said ‘be small.’
To be clear. I don’t mean live a small Life but I do mean if you want to find the kind of glory I am discussing, and you want to be selectively thoughtfully reckless, and you want to die right rather than live wrong, you end up thinking about being an energy for ‘doing’ like an atom, or a pebble in a pond, where you make yourself as solidly, strongly and distinctly rightly small — and then choose your path. Thinking about that, well, maybe that is why I balk at ‘daredevil’ so much. It sounds big & flamboyant. I find that being defiantly, and successfully, right in your choice is more often found in the ‘toil’ — in the small stuff and avoiding the small stuff at the same time.
It is more about being solidly small in your solidly rightness.
“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”
And, yes, maybe it is about a small quiet courage found in the everyday.
Do I think I am courageous? Certainly not.
Resilient? Absolutely yes.
But this kind of resilience seems to contain a version of courage that is easy to miss. It is a small resilient courage.
It is the small courage you hold on to … to stay when it is easier to leave.
It is the small courage you hold on to … to keep doing when everything says ‘quit.’
It is the small courage you hold on to … to respect difference when we would much rather judge.
It is the small courage you hold on to … to accept some vulnerability when building a wall feels much safer.
It is the small courage you hold on to … to recognize your own agenda needs to be revised to accommodate another’s better idea.
It is the small courage you hold on to … everyday <even though it takes some ‘toil’ to create it>.
It is the small courage you hold on to … to not only become who we really are … but which enables the better version of who we are.
It is the small courage you hold on to … in a world that often doesn’t seem to encourage courageous everyday acts.
Life isn’t easy. Business isn’t easy. And navigating both shouldn’t be easy. All I can suggest is some selective thoughtful recklessness can help you out on occasion. I can also promise, when done well and with ‘good as an intent’, it gives you a shot at glory.
… it is a lovely thing to live with courage and die leaving an everlasting fame
I would rather die right then live wrong