Thirty years ago this week, I sat in my Grade 8 classroom as a 13-year-old girl and stared at a television screen trying to comprehend what was happening.
The space shuttle Challenger, carrying six crew members and a teacher who had won a contest to be a passenger into space, had exploded on takeoff. It was devastating.
Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States, had to comfort a nation, and all those around the globe watching. Especially the children.
“I want to say something to the schoolchildren who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff,” Reagan said. “I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.”
Most of the challenges we face in life thankfully don’t end this tragically. But many of us feel the fear that they might. And will that fear hold us back or will we walk through it?
As Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Every day we have chances to be brave or to stick with the tried and true. It could be speaking up at work, taking on a project, meeting new people, travelling to different places or starting a business doing something we are passionate about.
As T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” If you can always see the shore line, how do you know if you can make it in the middle of the sea? And how great would it feel to return home with the knowledge that not only can you make it, but you can thrive? It’s a game-changer.
Anais Nin said, “People living deeply have no fear of death.” They are doing what they love and have no regrets.
So don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Don’t think of all the things that might go wrong. Think of how you’ll feel about yourself if things go right.
As Shakespeare said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”