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Courage: Doing What You Think You Cannot Do

By Rich Rusdorf

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

Doing that which you fear, or think you cannot, will help you develop the above qualities and many more, such as: creativity, patience, fortitude, compassion, humility, generosity, determination, tolerance, acceptance, collaboration, curiosity, and boldness. You get them by continuously tackling challenges.

Acts of courage come in many forms. For me, it was setting out attempting to become my own boss and earn enough income. Others have done the same.

The key point in Mrs. Roosevelt’s message is doing something that seems undoable. Leaving a secure, high-paying job at the age of 50 seemed insane, but I felt compelled. Chalk it up to a mid-life crisis if you must, life is just to short to spend it unfulfilled.

Author Joan Borysenko, PhD says, “We don’t know yet where we are called to go. We leave anyway because some inner voice tells us that if we do not, there will be hell to pay. Then we wander for a while in the strange place called don’t know. Don’t know where I am going. Don’t know what is coming next. Don’t know who I am anymore. This is courage, not confusion; it is wisdom not folly. It creates the space for something new to be born.”

My own compelling inner voice said that I wasn’t doing what I came to earth to do. My life was going well, yet it didn’t feel completely right. My need to find out what was missing was the call into the unknown. It was enough to make me quit my job and move from Chicago to Arizona.

Ten years later I’m still trying to do the thing which I cannot do. I haven’t succeeded in the way I hoped I would, but I did find what was missing by learning my life purpose. Specifically, I was born to explore. I discovered it on my own through a process of study, experiences, self-examination, and trial and error.

Accepting the challenges of self-employment, new environments and relationships, I gained insight into what really matters. What matters is living on purpose. Now that I spend my time exploring (and there are many ways I do it) my life feels right. I feel compelled to explore, not because something is missing, but because it’s what I enjoy doing.

I was afraid to leave my job, but did it anyway. I am stronger, more courageous and confident for it. I am also happier, and even at peace without having achieved my financial goals yet. Once I knew that special thing I was born to do it freed me to do it with passion.

Time on earth is too valuable to be wasted being lost, which is why I created a process that helps others find their purposes. Clients tell me that the time and money they’ve spent to find out what they are born to do is the most valuable investment they’ve made.

I would have saved a lot of time from making errors if I had known my life purpose before I quit my corporate job. One thing I hope you can’t do after reading this is to live your life without knowing your purpose. Knowing your purpose will make it a lot easier to activate your courage when you want to being living it.

Copyright 2007 Rich Rusdorf

Rich Rusdorf of San Rafael, California, is a certified coach, speaker, workshop leader, and author. An expert on behavioral authenticity, he helps people identify their life purposes so they can have the freedom to achieve their desires by being who they really are. You can read more about him at

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