“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., speech, Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1963.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a powerful man who did amazing things while he was here. It’s heart warming to see the appreciation we have for such a man who changed this country for the better and brought a new light to what it means to be human. But Martin Luther King, Jr. was also…just a man.
What I mean by this is he is flesh and blood, just like you. It is too often that I see people who are shut down and floating around as if they are already dead, caught up in the daily grind of requirements, demands, frustrations and disappointments that consistently haunt them. In the light of those things, those same things that Mr. King could have let stop him, he instead used them to do something meaningful to himself and to others.
In my life coaching sessions, I also hear of what holds people back from living their life to its fullest, most often because of their fear of death. Parents try to stop or influence their children to not do certain things because of their own fear of their child getting hurt. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I understand the need and responsibility of protecting one’s own children. I’m just saying that it’s important to recognize when you might be having an impact on someone else’s growth, possibility of learning something powerful from their experience, or even doing something great.
The fear of failure is a common one too. So is the fear of success but the idea of failing to some is debilitating. In order for us to fail or succeed, we usually embark on some sort of change. I recently heard that it’s not really change that we’re afraid of, it’s more that we’re afraid that we won’t be okay or successful in the realm of what is changing.
I also have a feeling that it’s either of these fears that also gets in the way of people finding their life purpose, or that which compels them to be excited about waking up everyday. Your life purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be something that one might actually die for. But if you were to talk with someone who embraces and carries out their purpose, and others who engage in life as if it was their last day here, they would all say how powerful it is. To fully immerse yourself in life’s simple moments and allow yourself to receive whatever amount of pleasure from them can be just as powerful as rallying down the street, holding signs to shift beliefs that don’t serve the greater good, chanting phrases that others hear to support impactful change, or to stand in front of those who differ in beliefs with a fearless demeanor.
When I say fearless, I don’t mean one who doesn’t have fear, experiences fear or shows fear. When I say fearless, I mean one who may be experiencing any amount of fear but they don’t let it stop them. They are aware of their fear and can embrace it and use that energy to propel them into action. Fear is meant for us to experience so that we can differentiate when we are actually unsafe. A question I would have is how often are you misusing it?
It could be that you aren’t ready to do something and that’s okay, if you’re not in alignment with it yet, then don’t do it. You will be ready at some point and it’s best to do it when you are ready. Although if it’s just fear that’s stopping you, the kind of fears like fear of failure or fear of success, this is a kind of misuse of your fear by letting it stop you from being who you are. It’s also in a sense doing a disservice to yourself and others because you aren’t sharing your gifts, passions, and talents.
Thank you Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for being the fearless leader that you were. Thank you for doing something meaningful that will affect mankind for years to come. Thank you mostly for being the example of what legacy means to me, to be remembered for doing something great without knowing how it would all turn out.