Courage is Contagious

As parents we can do our best to plan teachable moments (like our recent trip to the Center for Civil and Human Rights), but sometimes the best ones come while paying attention to everyday life.  Here’s how my daughter Olivia recently inspired me to dare greatly while riding to swim practice yesterday:

Olivia: Daddy, why don’t you know how to swim?

Me: Because daddy never learned how to swim.  The truth is, I was afraid to learn growing up, afraid of the water, and now that I’m older…I guess I just never really bothered to learn.

Olivia: Wait, you were afraid of the water?  The water’s nothing to be afraid of once you get used to it.  Ok, well since we’re taking swimming lessons and we have to learn, how about you take adult swimming lessons and you have to learn?

Me [honestly contemplating my response]: Challenge accepted!  I’m still a little bit afraid of the water, but you know what, you and Riley have been so courageous this summer learning how to swim, you’ve inspired me to be courageous as well.

Olivia: Good!  Now when are you going to learn?


I hope to report back soon on how I’ve finally learned how to swim and what that journey felt like.  What I’ve learned from leading (and parenting) is that you can only reproduce what you are.  Essentially that means that if you want your children or those you lead to be fearless, then you need to be an example of fearlessness.  If you want them to be humble, then you have to be humble.  Right now life is giving me plenty of opportunities to live out this value of being courageous, and for that I’m grateful and nervous.

What I hope to model as I navigate this transition is vulnerability with the girls.  I want them to understand that it’s ok to struggle, in fact it’s necessary. I want them to see how I handle it, in real time, and learn from my own successes and failures.  Recently I finished Brene Brown’s amazing book Daring Greatly, and one thing she writes is: vulnerability begets vulnerability; courage is contagious.  The girls are going to learn firsthand from Samantha and I what it means to be courageous, and I hope they catch the right things. As Joseph Pearce writes, what we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.



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