The Balance of Courage and Consideration
Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day? In it, a man wakes up,
messes up his day and goes to bed. The next morning, it isn’t
the next morning - it’s the same morning. Groundhog Day
again... and again and again. Every day is the same day - until
he gets it right.
In a way, we are all starring in the Great Groundhog Day movie.
We wake up each morning - same name, same thoughts, same history.
We are pretty much recycling the same story. Our own. And every
time the sun rises, we get another chance to perfect the experience
of being alive.
“Perfected” is one of the definitions of maturity.
“Fully developed in body or mind, completed, elaborated
in full, PERFECTED.”
Hrand Saxenian of Harvard Business School defined maturity differently:
“the balance between courage and consideration.”*
Well, if that’s the case, then I met an amazing model of
maturity walking in the rain beside Engishman River one Sunday.
Three-year-old Mary was with her father, little brother, and her
mother who was ready to give birth any minute - literally. Mary
walked up to me.
“What’s your name?” “Joanne.”
“How old are you?”
Then she reached out her hand and took mine. “Nice to meet
Her eyes really saw me. She obviously wasn’t thinking of
anything else while looking into my eyes. She was totally there.
“Are you a grundba?”
“Yes, I am a grandma.” She smiled.
Then Mary went to my son Luke. “What’s your name?”
“How old are you?” She took his hand. “Nice
to meet you, Luke.” She was obviously interested in everyone,
because no one was left out.
We were all mesmerized by this 3-year-old angel in the woods.
I asked her mother, “Did you teach her this?” She
shook her head no, smiling. This was more than good manners. Somewhere
May had seen and heard this human greeting, liked it, and made
it her own. She wanted to meet everyone in the woods, or the world,
and now, given the proper form, she set out to do it.
My granddaughter walked up from the riverbank.
“Hi, what’s your name?”
“How old are you?”
“Four and a half. How old are you?”
“I’m three minutes.”
We all laughed in joy. Mary’s response reminds us how new
she is to the planet. Who is this young soul in a tiny body with
mud all over her raincoat, who is eager to meet and appreciate
everyone; who has the perfect balance of courage and consideration?
A angel, a saint, a buddha perhaps? An old soul for sure.
Mary was not just being nice. She was curious, courageous, kind,
and fully aware of the importance of everyone she encountered
on that rainy day, hours before her new sibling was born. She
had courage and consideration in perfect balance.
It takes courage to live a full life. I remember Yogi Bajan shouting
to us in 1973 under the hot New Mexico sky. “You have to
have courage. No freaking out!”
It’s true. Life’s a trip. It’s NOT a day at
the beach. It takes courage to get up and go out into the world;
it takes courage to clearly envision goals and go after them.
But beyond that, those who mature to the level of recognizing
the importance, presence, and treasure of every other human being
are the ones we celebrate and seek to emulate.
The greats in humanity’s story, like Gandhi, didn’t
leave the outsiders outside, or anyone forgotten on the river
path. Gandhi set out to liberate not half of India, but all of
India -Moslems, Hindus, and anyone else. He is a perfect example
of maturity: unimaginable courage and unfathomable consideration.
It’s the same with the other greats of human history - the
ones we revere and honor with holidays.
But the Groundhog Day story calls all of us to be a great. No
problem. There’s a quiet revolution in process. It’s
not a do-good kind of morality, but rather a growing awareness
that we are all connected; we win or lose together.
Whether we are coming to this awakening from a social, economic,
political, scientific or spiritual perspective, the fact remains,
we are coming to it. And it’s happening at the negotiating
table, the kitchen table, and the cutting table at the fabric
It’s humanity’s great Groundhog Day opportunity. We’ve
done it wrong, again and again, and now we’re getting inklings
on how to do it right.
Another day, another change, another chance.
*Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.