Perhaps you have heard of Ambrose Hollingworth Redmoon. No? Well, I am sure you will remember him as soon as I tell you he was the one who penned the popular quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Does that ring a bell? I didn’t know who Ambrose Redmoon was either until I did some research.
Born in 1933 in Painesville, Ohio, as James Neil Hollingworth, Ambrose was a beatnik, hippie, and former manager of legendary rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. At the age of 33, he was in a near-fatal car accident that left him confined to a wheelchair, dependent on the care of others. He turned to writing, since his former life was gone. Though he struggled to get his writings published and was little known beyond a relatively small circle of mystic followers, Redmoon kept writing until he passed away in 1996. Five years before his death, though, he wrote an article for the fall issue of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. In it, he gives the entire quote:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave.”
We all know of times when, in the midst of abject fear, courageous acts are done. We’ve all read the stories of a mother whose son is trapped underneath an overturned tractor. Desperate and focused only on saving her son’s life, she lifts the heavy farm tractor with one hand while rescuing her son with the other. Urban myth, maybe. However, you and I both know what fear feels like. We know how debilitating it is, how it can stop us in our tracks, and how it can make us run away. The courage the mother had, had to do with making the decision that something more important–the life of her son–was more important than her fear. Then, it was just a matter of taking action–moving in the direction of what she wanted beyond the reach of fear. It’s not about ignoring the fear. It’s about choosing something greater.
What Is It That You Need To Be Courageous About?
Perhaps it is about the ending of a relationship or the beginning of a new career path. Maybe it’s about something more soulful, such as finding peace amidst the tempestuous storms of life, getting right with God, or laying down a grudge you’ve held against another.
In my case, my single act of courage began the fall of 1997 when I consciously made a decision that–more than anything else–I wanted to be happy. At that time, I was living in South Dakota working as an assistant professor of music doing a little bit of everything: directing choirs, teaching theory classes, teaching music appreciation, and even giving jazz piano lessons. This was my first full-time academic position after receiving my doctorate, and I was so excited to actually land a position that I was willing and eager to teach anything and everything related to music. Though I was excited to be have my position, deep down inside, I wasn’t happy.
Sure, I was successful. I had a home, a car, a job, a relationship, and a steady income. Still, when I was alone, my inner thoughts and feelings all came tumbling out. Throughout my body, I felt a system-wide unrest. So, I looked for things I could do to avoid feeling my unrest for too long. When I did sit still long enough to feel it, I could hear what the voice inside my head was saying. None of it was the contentment and peacefulness of a quiet mind I would later come to know.
What Do You Hear the Voice inside Your Head Telling You?
That voice inside your head could be telling you all sorts of interesting things if you are just starting up your business. Perhaps it is screaming, “Get out now before you lose your shirt!” Or, “You don’t know anything about running a business, who do you think you are starting one up?” Deciding to become a small business owner takes courage. Courage to reach for something greater, something beyond the reach of fear.
What’s beyond the reach of fear? The stuff that dreams are made of. The burning desires, passionate excitements, and innovative ideas that will transform your life and make a difference in the world. Knowing that, what are you waiting for?
Be bold. Act courageously.