For American cowboys, traversing the rugged landscape of the untamed West required immeasurable courage. Cowboys encountered extreme weather, cattle stampedes, trail boss tolls, conflicts with Native Americans, and other life-threatening dangers. No one lacking in bravery would last very long on the range; these pioneers, armed with fortitude and courage, embarked on the Chisholm trail and other cattle trails, seeking financial rewards and a better life.
The American cowboy’s courage is evident through the constant physical, mental, and emotional peril faced on the range. Their struggles are symbolic of the countless challenges we face in our own lives on the road to success. The Cowboy Ethos of living each day with courage is a concept we can all use when challenged with life adversity. Countless events throughout our lives require us to act with courage. Courage is needed to face sickness or death of a loved one, a bankruptcy, a divorce, a financial failure. The best times in life also demand we be courageous: starting a business, getting married, having a baby.
It isn’t just iconic American cowboys who inspire us to live with courage; daily courage can be witnessed in real life heroes living among us. As I think back to the people I admire most, it occurs to me that they inspire me because they live this creed. They live each and every day with courage to move through life even if taking that next step is into the uncomfortable or unknown.
One of my favorite analogies about daily courage comes from retired Senator James Webb*.
According to Sen. Webb, daily courage is “when you know you’ve got to do this. That’s all there is to it.” He tells the story of his friend Dale Wilson- a fellow Vietnam vet, Silver Star recipient, and triple amputee. He describes Dale as the most positive person he’s ever met; as Sen. Webb tells it, you would not know Wilson lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam. To Sen. Webb, Dale Wilson exemplifies what he calls “daily courage.”
It takes Dale Wilson fifteen minutes to get out bed every morning; from the very moment he wakes up it requires courage to literally take a step and move forward to keep living. The effort he must put forth each day to accomplish tasks that come easy to most of us has inspired countless others. He was named 2009 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year for his leadership, inspiration, and volunteerism decades after his injury.
Dale Wilson is just one among many countless individuals who live each day with courage, proving that with that outlook, facing life’s challenges head on is possible.
Financial success is just one facet of a life-well lived, but it is foundational. It gives us the freedom to make choices to improve our lives and the lives of our loved ones. The same bravery required to battle circumstances calamitous and out of our control, is needed to live financially sound and achieve financial freedom.
Courage is certainly required in the wake of financial failure. I have personally faced financial devastation, and know the importance of facing each day bravely and moving forward to a solution. Likewise, I have several clients who have climbed their way out of bankruptcy, gambling addiction, and other financially devastating situations. Whether the cause is self-inflicted or the result of unfortunate circumstances makes no difference. To begin on the journey of rebuilding from your failure you must live each day courageously, and bravely move through your problems to a solution.
Courage is not only required when we face adverse financial circumstances; it’s also required to progress and grow financially in good times as well. If you want to start a business, you must face head-on every day the inevitable hurdles that will come your way. Similarly, selling a business you’ve built or retiring from a career you love requires courage; you must readily face the next phase of your life, even if it may be unknown.
We may not face the daily perils of the American cowboy, but we have numerous obstacles that can be equally as daunting: volatile stock markets, inflation, unknown tax regimes, regulations, changes in income, and countless unforeseen challenges. We must attack these hardships head-on, living each day with courage, even under seemingly impossible circumstances, and move forward seeking financial rewards and a better life.
*Senator James Webb is a Vietnam Veteran, Marine Officer, Navy Cross recipient, and former Secretary of the Navy.