Nobody Who Starts With A Conviction Intends To Abandon That Conviction. But Many Do.

Nobody Who Starts With A Conviction Intends To Abandon That Conviction. But Many Do.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash

Nobody who starts with a conviction intends to abandon that conviction when the heat is turned up.

  • No athlete starts training with the goal of finishing last.
  • No student enters college anticipating dropping out before graduation.
  • No revolutionary leader intends to become a tyrant.
  • No lovestruck couple at the altar intends to be dividing furniture in a lawyer’s office.
  • Nobody who gives their life fully to Jesus intends to deny him outright later in life.

But these things happen all the time. No matter how strong our convictions, we all suffer from a failure of nerve at some point in our lives.

“The real problem of leadership is a failure of nerve.” - Edwin Friedman

Edwin served for 20 years as a pulpit rabbi and 25 years as an organizational consultant and family therapist in the Washington DC area.

“Leaders fail not because they lack information, skill, or technique, but because they lack the nerve and presence to stand firm in the midst of other people’s emotional anxiety and reactivity.”

Instead of standing for what is right, true, or good, bad leaders adapt to the level of immaturity around them.

How do you combat a failure of nerve?

With the testing point of every virtue: courage.

Courage is the ability to stay calm, the willingness to stand alone, and the confidence to persevere.

A Story of Courage

In the scorching sands of the Sahara, under a relentless sun, Fatima Oussou didn't have the luxury of grand gestures. Her courage was a whisper, a steady drumbeat of resilience against the silence of an unforgiving desert. For seven agonizing days, she and her young daughter, Aïcha, were lost, nomadic herders separated from their tribe by a sandstorm's fury.

silhouette of person walking on ground at daytime
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Their meager provisions dwindled with each sunrise. Mirages taunted, shimmering promises of water dissolving into cruel illusions. Aïcha, weakened by fever, could barely walk. Desperation clawed at Fatima's heart, but she refused to let it engulf her. Remembering her grandmother's stories of desert survival, she dug deep for the courage to keep going.

Each sunrise became a victory song. Fatima guided herself by the sun's arc, using her shawl to collect precious dew from desert plants. Every step was a prayer, a whispered promise to Aïcha, "We will find our way." She sang her daughter the old tribal songs, melodies whispered against the wind, keeping the spark of hope alive.

One day, Aïcha grew too weak to carry on. Fatima, her own throat parched and muscles screaming, knew she had to act. Leaving Aïcha in the shade of a meager dune, she climbed a rocky outcrop, scanning the endless horizon. There, in the distance, was a shimmer unlike any mirage, a glint of steel reflecting the sun.

Could it be real?

She stumbled towards it, fueled by a mother's fierce love. And there it was—a solitary well, a beacon of salvation in the vast emptiness. Fatima drank, then rushed back to Aïcha, tears of relief mingling with the desert dust on her face. They found their tribe hours later, welcomed with jubilant cries and tearful embraces.

Fatima's courage wasn't a battlefield charge or a daring escape. It was the quiet heroism of a mother's love, a refusal to surrender to despair, a whisper of hope etched onto the unforgiving canvas of the desert. It was a testament to the fact that sometimes the bravest acts are the smallest, the ones that keep us going one step at a time, one sunrise at a time.

  • The story draws inspiration from the resilience of nomadic communities, particularly women, who navigate harsh environments with remarkable resourcefulness and strength.
  • See Gertrude Bell, an early 20th-century traveler and archaeologist who ventured into the Arabian desert and documented the lives of Bedouin tribes, highlighting their courage and adaptability.Subscribed

How to Have Nerve. How to Have Courage.

  • Start small. Begin with something that makes you uncomfortable—a conversation you've been avoiding or a skill you want to learn. Each victory, however modest, builds the muscle of courage.
  • Face your fears, not hide from them. Acknowledge what scares you, then take a step towards it, even if it trembles. Each confrontation weakens fear's grip.
  • Find your purpose. What makes your heart sing? What injustice stings your soul? Connect your courage to a cause bigger than yourself, and it becomes a burning torch, not a flickering candle.
  • Seek inspiration. Read stories of everyday heroes—people who found courage in the most unexpected places. Their journeys will light your own.
  • Remember, courage is a choice. It's not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act despite it. Choose hope over despair and action over inertia.

Courage is a journey, not a destination. There will be stumbles and moments of doubt.

But with each step, you walk closer to the person you were always meant to be—the one who stares fear in the face and whispers, "I choose courage."