In a TED talk, Mark Bezos shares his first day on-the-job as a volunteer firefighter.
In his town, the only way to get in on the action as a volunteer was to arrive at the scene quickly. On this particular day, he was the second volunteer to arrive– so he had high-hopes that he’d get to help out. The fire captain was chatting with the frantic homeowner. Then he calls over the volunteers to dole out their assignments:
The fire captain tells the first volunteer, “Go inside and save the dog”
Mark was so jealous because this guy was surely going to be the hero by saving this pup.
Then the captain calls him over, “Mark I need you to go into the house, I need you to go upstairs – past the fire and I need you to get this woman a pair of shoes”
...not exactly the heroic act he was looking forward to - but he charged into the house, up the stairs, past the fire, into the bedroom, grabbed the shoes – and saved them.
Two weeks later, the fire department receives a letter from the homeowner expressing her gratitude and highlighting that someone even got her a pair of shoes.
But over the years, Mark’s seen a lot and hammers-home an important lesson on courage:
“Don’t wait to make a difference in somebody’s life. If you have something to give, give it now. Serve food in a soup kitchen. Clean up a neighborhood park. Be a mentor. Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one. So get in the game. Save the shoes.”
Recently, I was moseying through a horse stable in the Kaida plateau of Japan.
It housed Kiso Horses: a rare breed with large heads, stubby legs and such thick hooves that they don’t need horseshoes - making them exceptional at farm-work and lugging supplies through the mountains. Plus, they’re pretty easy-going, unlike ponies (which I’ve heard can be little stinkers).
Anyway, while I watched these beasts chomp on grass, it reminded me of a story about the number one quality of winning racehorses.
The fastest horse wins the race, that’s what speaker Jim Rohn believed…until a thoroughbred horse trainer told him, it’s not the fastest that wins…
It’s the horse with the most “class” that wins the race.
Calling on a reserve of energy.
It’s the ability to overcome any number of challenges during a race.
Class doesn’t mean you never get tired. But it does mean you never show it.
Class doesn’t mean you’re not tempted to quit sometimes. But it does mean you never actually do.
In the final yards of a race, class makes the difference.
No matter what your particular “race” is – it’ll be teeming with obstacles and challenges trying to knock you off track, distract you or slow you down. (Robert Downey Jr.'s story is a perfect example of this)
(Some internal. Some environmental)
Rarely are there perfect conditions.
But whatever YOUR race is:
Even if you're not the fastest, the smartest, the most talented, the most experienced, the most “educated”
Strive for having the most “class” instead.
Having the most reserves of energy... the most persistence for overcoming obstacles... the most grit for chasing answers... so you can rest-assured that you'll eventually build your skills and find a way to the finish...
Because you'll keep trotting along while others exit the race.
But it starts (and ends) with class.
A couple weeks ago, I was in Tokyo eating an authentic Sumo Wrestler meal called Chanko Nabe.
It’s a hot pot filled with veggies, fish and other meats. And MAN is it good! Apparently, sumo wrestlers eat one of these per day. For us, it took three people just to take one down.
But what really struck me about Tokyo was this:
This mega-city has grown to 37.8 million people (metro population) despite being destroyed over… and over again by war, fires, tsunamis and earthquakes.
One of the worst was the Great Kanto Earthquake. This 7.9 magnitude earthquake awakened a devastating 40-foot tsunami that swept away coastal villages…dropped dozens of buildings… tipped over stoves and broke gas mains causing fires throughout the city - that then merged into a 300-foot-tall “fire tornado” – called a dragon twist (which the fire department couldn’t do much about because water mains were destroyed).
In a single day, close to half the city was destroyed.
Yet, despite all of these disasters Tokyo has rebounded and emerged stronger.
More fortified. More resilient.
Each time it’s allowed leaders to take a step back and look at how to improve the city.
It’s a similar opportunity after personal failures… setbacks… and rejection…
There’s a choice to rebuild… come back stronger… more prepared… and armed with new knowledge about what to do differently next time.
(Not always easy. But possible)
Some will see it as starting over.
But if you’re honest with yourself, you’re never really starting over - you always lug your knowledge, experience and wisdom on your back and carry it with you wherever you go. You may sometimes forget it’s there… but it’s there.
And tucked in there are the tools and raw materials to rebuild.
After the 2011 earthquake in Japan, rescuers found an elderly couple who’d been trapped for three days in a building. When a reporter asked the husband if he was okay, he smiled at the camera and said, “Let’s rebuild again.” He had survived the 1960 tsunami and knew the drill.
So if you’ve recently faced defeat… failure… or recovering from a setback here’s your chance to rebuild again.
Deadpool is a former military officer, turned anti-hero after a cancer-treatment gone wrong – leaving him with healing powers.
But there’s more than meets the eye with golden-globe nominated Deadpool actor, Ryan Reynolds. You’d never guess it but he struggles with anxiety. In fact, before every talk-show interview he fills with dread and gets sick to his stomach – sometimes convinced he might croak.
Even though Deadpool is not everyone’s cup of cranberry juice. There’s a barrel-full of lessons we can all take a swig from – especially when facing off against anxiety or crushing uncertainty.
Here we go:
Deadpool’s Five Lessons From Wrestling Anxiety
1. Channel Fear Into Something Constructive
When Reynolds did TV sitcoms, he would warm up the audience, which was mostly to set himself at ease and channel his panic into something constructive. Likewise, he uses the character of Deadpool in the same way (one reason he prefers doing TV interviews as the super-hero – not himself).
2. Takes Time to Heal Himself
Just like in the movie, when Deadpool is clobbered or knocked off a bridge he needs time to heal and regain his strength. In the same way, Reynolds takes time to recharge and rejuvenate by daily meditation.
3. Skills Emerge From Setbacks
Reynolds grew up under a strict and unpredictable father. He was tough on others. Tough on himself. And rarely open up:
“I always wanted that father that was like Wilford Brimley,
who would put me on his lap and just dispense incredible life
advice and guidance.”
But that wasn’t his Dad. Reynolds always tried to yank conversation out of him. But only got brief, knee-jerk responses. Never exposing much. Or sharing much. So he felt distanced from him.
The hardest part for me is that he was always kind of a mystery.
I just don't feel like I ever had a real conversation with him.
But out of that pain, emerged a humor, compassion and skill for listening closely to others. And eventually he learned: “At some point, you just kinda gotta live and let go.”
4. Knowing The Anxiety Will Float Away
Even when he’s sweating bullets, jittery, or about to prance into interview there’s one belief he’s built over the years and that is “these feelings will pass”
5. Embracing Yourself Even Without A Mask
He used to get anxious at the thought of saying something that:
So he’d crack jokes and handle conversations at a surface level – never diving any deeper. Over the years though, he’s embraced that he’s smart but he’s also embraced that he can be an “idiot” too – and being okay with being both.
“Being okay with being both”
Because sometimes we forget that we’re allowed to be both.