I’ve wanted to add a new category to address issues of personal development but I didn’t know what to call it. I thought of calling it coaching but decided that was overused. Leadership is likewise overused and besides, I’ve never forgotten Camus who says
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
I thought of calling the category “Stewardship” but figured most people wouldn’t get it. For those who don’t know, my self-identity is that of Steward, a less emotionally loaded way to describe nurturing. Steward sounds better than Nurturer. I could have used Cheerleading for the category title but that sounded dorky. Guardian sounded too paternal and by turns partisan so obviously, my thesaurus wasn’t helping much.
Until I came upon Courage and from there led Brave. Even though I’ve felt that for much of my life I’ve been suspended between tedium and terror, those were words I could identify with. In fact, I have a personal motto. It is:
Slavery or Bravery. Pick one.
And I believe it utterly; you can’t convince me otherwise. As someone who’s had a very difficult and sometimes tragic life, I know what it’s like to be born a victim and to live like one but came such day that I realized I didn’t need to remain a victim because being a victim is a choice and that wasn’t one I chose to make any longer. And if you don’t believe me, you haven’t read Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I am a voracious reader yet this book has had the single greatest impact on my life. If Frankl could chose to not be a victim while living in Auschwitz, then I could choose to not be a victim too.
I don’t like to tell my story. People cry (then I have to cry too) or say I’m heroic but I’m not that either. And then they usually say that others who come from where I did have no excuse for their circumstances but they were not given the mind or tenacity I was and besides, saying that anybody could do it trivializes the accomplishment. The other thing that sometimes saved me was temerity because if you’re being kicked too many times, it’s best to keep your head down till you can find a way out. Believe me, few if any of you could have been poorer or more disadvantaged than me so I have little compassion for the trivial excuses people concoct for not being able to do what they want to do. Or intend to do. Or wish to do. I know that if I’m not doing it, I’m coasting. Are you coasting too?
But still for me, surviving wasn’t enough. Thriving was all I was willing to settle for. That’s when I came up with Slavery or Bravery. Pick one. That means that you always have a choice, recognize that you do and take responsibility for it. Sometimes you have to choose Slavery but be clear about it. Say that you’re choosing Slavery for now -out loud. Once that starts to rankle -and it will- maybe you’ll move toward choosing Bravery instead.
The category Slavery or Bravery will include everything from personal improvement to the assumption of responsibility for personal choices. It’ll also include tools and resources that I’ve found useful or thought provoking. I suppose you could also describe entries as “business” tools but I’ve never understood how people can compartmentalize those things to themselves. On “it isn’t personal, it’s business” Adrian Savage says it best
But it is personal. It’s all personal. Every choice you make is personal, because you’re a person doing it. Nobody can walk away from responsibility in that way.
If you’re coasting, you’re a slave. I know I am; I’ve been coasting for quite awhile now and I think it’s time to do something great. I think that many of you come here because you think it’s time to do something great too. In that case, there’s no time like the present; Slavery or Bravery, pick one.