A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive messages for youth about exceptionalism through courage

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

Courage (or a lack thereof) is a big part of life. When some people think about courage, they think of war heroes on a battlefield, but it’s about far more than that. Courage means tackling challenges and difficulties without letting fear overcome us. Even if we don’t consider ourselves to be particularly courageous, it’s possible we’re courageous just about every day.

Not every act of courage is flashy. Sometimes we need courage just to take a difficult test or perform a work task, instead of freezing up or freaking out. It takes courage to become dedicated to achieving something, like trying out for a sports team, joining an academic team, auditioning for a play, or delivering a speech. Imagine what we will accomplish with tens of thousands of courageous choices over the course of our lifetimes.

Courage will remain central at all stages of our lives. It takes courage to be a coach of a child’s sports team, to teach a class at church, to try to get a promotion, or to seek a new job. Some things will come easy and other things won’t, which is where our courage comes into play.

Courage also involves stretching outside our “comfort zones” – an essential part of becoming exceptional. If we stretch into unfamiliar territory, something new, we will usually develop new skills and find talents we didn’t know we had. All of us have talents waiting to come out. We find them when we go forward courageously.

Would it be easier to never show courage and never take risks? In the short run, sure. But as President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” We probably didn’t learn to ride a bike without falling. We didn’t make a friend without the courage to meet them and talk. The courage we show and the productive risks we take can turn a boring life into an amazing adventure.

Americans have a rich history of courageously taking risks. Immigrants crossed oceans to settle here, leaving their families for a new world. Our Founders risked everything they had, committing treason against England, to form our country. The battle for equal rights (as well as every other battle for justice in our country) could not have been fought without a tremendous amount of courage.

Evidence of courage surrounds us, including every American-made thing we see. For example, people risked their savings to build things and create jobs with their new businesses. Every time we see a skyscraper, we know it took courage for the business to fund and design it, just as it took courage for the people who worked up high building the skyscraper.

We should keep our eyes open for the next opportunity. If it can help us grow or help others, we should have the courage to say “yes” more often than we say “no.”

While it is true that all of us need downtime to have fun and goof off, chances are we won’t be exceptional by burying our heads in our smartphones for hours at a time or binge-watching Netflix 24-7. Courageous, exceptional lives don’t work that way.

Join us next week when we explore the common ground of freedom. Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a recipient of its Frontiersman Award. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky.

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