Veterans Day 2022 Causes Me to Think About COURAGE

Happy Veterans Day!  I am very grateful for our son, Lt. PJ Everts!  He is a future “Veteran.”  Continue to kick butt, PJ!  I am also grateful for all of my students / friends who are Veterans.  I have quite a few and that gives me a patriotic feeling.  GOD BLESS YOU ALL!  And, of course, thank you to the students and friends who are currently serving in the military.  GOOD BLESS YOU ALL!!

What one word comes to mind – among several – when I think of the military is “courage.”  The courage it takes to volunteer to put your life on the line every day.  Next to first responders, such as fire fighters / police officers, every time a foot touches a sea vessel or a land where there is conflict (and “could-be” conflict), you (military) put your life on the line.  Many people take you (military) for granted.  Too many people do not understand, if it was not for you, we could not have the right to vote in an election this week.

But one doesn’t have to be in the military or be a first responder to display courage.  NOPE.

Standing up to the WOKE CULTURE of the United States of America (push against those who love for our nation, the right to believe abortion is taking a life, the right for a gay couple to have the same rights as a married couple) takes courage.  And on a very different level than the military / first responders, the moment you speak-up, you risk ending many parts of your life.  And isn’t that a display of courage?  To accept the responsibility to risk ending many parts of your life, parts being relationships / career?

In 2007, I chose to speak up when I and several others saw the misallocation of funds for the Schwarzenegger Fine Arts Bond.  Well, that moment, as well as the moment when I was at the January 2008 “Little Town” school board meeting and I spoke up against the new high school NOT having a music program, I did not know those were “courageous” acts.  However, 14 years later, my career (which is ONE part of my life) has never been the same.  I am not saying my choice to speak up is at the same level of courage as a person in the military or one running towards danger.  What I am saying is, “Courage:  One person with courage is a majority (Dr. John Maxwell).”  One person spoke up when citizen’s money was being misallocated.  One person spoke up at the January 2008 school board meeting.  That one person is placed on Paid Administrative Leave.  Courageous acts will come with a price.

Now, is the time to find your courage and speak up.

A couple of quotes about courage:

  • Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities … because it is the quality which guarantees all others. – Winston Churchill
  • Courage is fear that has said its prayers. – Karl Barth

When I write an article or write a post on Facebook or make a YouTube episode, I don’t even put an ounce of courage in those actions.  Yet, my family and friends will use the word “courage” to describe those choices / actions.  “Wow, Paul.  That took some courage to post that”  “Wow, Paul.  That took courage to say, ‘I love God’ to your students.”

I do think agreeing with the mob or not being able to criticize your party / your tribe is cowardice.

So, how do I build courage?  Let’s look at Dr. Maxwell’s ways to improve / build our courage.  This will be from Dr. Maxwell’s excellent book:  The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

As you approach the tough decisions that challenge you, recognize these truths about courage:

  1. Courage Begins with an Inward Battle – Courage is not an absence of fear. Me:  ABSOLUTELY TRUE.  To think that a human in a battle does not have any fear?  But that soon-to-be-hero knows to win, the hero goes to battle, and the fear seems to disappear!  It is doing what you are afraid to do.  It is having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory.
  2. Courage is Making Things Right, Not Just Smoothing Them Over – Courage deals with principle, not perception. If you do not have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you will never be an effective leader.  Your dedication to potential must remain stronger than your desire to appease others.  Me:  WOW!   I had an administrator ask me, “Paul, could we get more people to like you?  I have never met a teacher who so many people love, and the same amount of people hate.”  I answered, “Not my goal for people to love or hate me.  My goal is to teach music and create better people.  I don’t control people’s reactions or response to me.  I do what I do for people and with love / Jesus Christ in my heart.” 
  3. Courage in a Leader Inspires Commitment from Followers – “Courage is contagious,” asserts evangelist Billy Graham, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” A show of courage by any person encourages others.  But a show of courage by a leader INSPIRES.  It makes people want to follow him.  Maxwell’s friend Jim Mellado explains, “Leadership is the expression of courage that compels people to do the right thing.”  Me:  September 2013, I was placed on paid administrative leave.  I knew I was innocent.  I did nothing wrong.  My commitment to my innocence was, in part, to teach my students / their parents (who supported me) to have courage and stand up for yourself!  December 2013, I was back in the classroom.  April 2014, with help, I took the band to Chicago where the band earned a “Gold Medal” for their performance!  Don’t let people push you to their perception! 
  4. Your Life Expands in Proportion to Your Courage – Fear limits a leader. Roman historian, Tacitus wrote, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”  But courage has the opposite effect.  Courage opens doors, and that is one of its most wonderful benefits.  Perhaps that’s why British theologian John Henry Newman said, “Fear not that your life will come to an end but that it will never have a beginning.”  Courage not only gives you a good beginning, but it also provides a better future.  Me:  When I read the Tacitus quote, I sense how “the desire for safety” is crippling our nation!  Safety is too important!  Instead of concrete or some hard ground under the jungle gym, it now has this really soft rubber.  We don’t like our children to play outside without us (their parents / adults) with them.  We have “safe spaces!” 

The three ways to improve courage are what I continue to work on daily!

  • Face the music – Go out and do something stretching simply for the sake of growing in courage.
  • Talk to that person – Most people are avoiding confrontation with someone in their lives. Me:  SUPER HARD TO THIS DAY.  Yet, I am improving.  I do recognize that confronting the person / situation is just part of life. 
  • Take a giant step – Maybe you have been afraid to make a career move.  If you have known in your heart that you should have changed jobs or started that new business, now is the time to face up to it.  Me:  I have not made a career move.  However, I have left great programs that I helped build: 
    • Tokay High School – 50 to 150 students;
    • York School – less than 100 students to 136 students-out-of-210 students in the student body;
    • Granite Bay High School – 39 students to over 120 students;  Diana built a color guard program from 5 members to over 40 members!
    • Galt High School – one choir to two choirs; 30 band students to 60 students; started a winter percussion program;
    • Dublin High School – 24 students in band; one-full time music teacher to two full-time music teachers and over 140 students in the instrumental music program, including starting a string orchestra;
    • Oakmont High School – August 12, 1997 to December 22, 2022 (remember COVID19 SHUTDOWN started on March 13, 2020, 43 students to 60 students!
      I left those programs because I felt the call from God to leave each program, to give others the opportunity to enjoy what we (students / parents / teachers / staff / Diana / me) built and go help another program!  Career move?  That is the plan.  You can help with that plan by contacting me and giving me the joy to help you and me become better.

Build your courage!  People need courageous leaders!  No doubt.  Don’t get pushed around.  Know that your courage is going to repel people and it is going to appeal to people.  Your courage begins and thrives when you have the courage to stand up to your own “deadly” self-talk!  As we know, we are our worst enemy!  Allow people to disagree with you (it’s okay for them to be wrong (GIGGLE – LOL).  Allow people to walk away and be open to hug them when they return.  Don’t make it your goal to change their mind.  Make it your goal to speak up when others will not.  Someone is going to support you.

The root for the word ‘courage’ is coeur which is French for “heart.”  Keep your heart strong.  Keep your heart center on the “good.”  Guard your heart.  Protect your heart.  Our nation and therefore the world, needs courageous people.  You and I need to be courageous people.  Consider this from 21 Indispensable Qualities of a LeaderA courageous act often brings unexpected positive results.  

Please buy the book:
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow: John C. Maxwell: 0020049074404: Books