A Lion’s Courage: How We Learn to Seize the Day

I recently went to an event in San Diego called “Peak Experience.” It’s an annual event where approximately 500 real estate agents get together for a personal growth experience. I have been to this event maybe a dozen times and each year the material is different. Some years, I may have had a breakthrough while right there in the moment. Other times, it might be a few weeks or months before something strikes me from the event as the “aha” takeaway.

The theme of this year’s event was wrapped around “The Wizard of Oz.” To get prepared for the event, we were asked to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” I hadn’t watched that movie in at least 30-40 years. When I last watched it as a child, I thought the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion all went to Emerald City to get their respective brain, heart, and courage. Of course, I understood as a child that Dorothy had to go to Emerald City in order to find her way home. But, as an adult, the moral of the story really hit home for me: there is no need to go to Emerald City because all that the characters needed was already inside each one of them.

Many moments resonated with me through each character in the movie, but this time, I connected the most to the lion. I have been blessed with so much in my life, but sometimes I struggle with mustering the courage to move forward on actions or to make tough decisions. We all have a fear of something in our lives and courage is all about moving forward in spite of the fear.

All of us go looking for whatever we think we need or is missing from ourselves, but the reality is we do not lack anything. The resources we need are already inside of us. We have to choose to pull out the given trait from within, which in and of itself takes courage. When we discover all that we desire is within us, we are free to be who we were created to be.

Several guest speakers spoke at the event, and each one had a specific topic to discuss. I led a small group discussion with about 10 people. I had a list of prepared questions, but when I lead a group for the first time, I like to open with an ice-breaker question. So I asked everyone at the table, “What would you do if you were invisible?”

I asked that question because the theme of the seminar was “The Wizard of Oz” and the lion’s search for courage resonated with me. As I said, we all experience fear, but if we were invisible how fearless would we be?

As the leader, it’s proper to go first when answering a question. My answer to the question was that I like to think that if I were invisible, I would go up to everyone I saw every day, and whisper in their ear, “You can do this! You can do this! You can do anything you want in life.”

I imagine that as I whisper in everyone’s ear, it would be fun to watch them turn their heads quickly and say to themselves, “Who was that?” Or, “What did you say?” They would then be jolted into action by some seemingly subconscious thought that was in fact me.

Ironically, in the morning session of day two of the Peak Experience, author Brian Moran, who wrote the “12 Week Year,” spoke for about 90 minutes. Toward the end of his session he discussed how condensing your yearly goals into 12 weeks forces you to be hyper-focused and present in every moment.

He then showed us a movie clip of Robin Williams in the “Dead Poets Society.” It was the scene where Williams encourages his students to follow him to the hallway outside the classroom. There, he asks the students to look at the wall of all the past boys who had been through the school and all the awards they received. He explains how those on the wall who accomplished so much are no different than the boys standing there looking at the wall. These celebrated achievers eat the same way, they wear their clothes the same way, and they do many other things just the same way the students standing there do.

Williams then asks the boys to move closer to the wall and as they do, he proceeds to whisper in each student’s ear, “Carpe Diem! Carpe Diem!” which means “Seize the day!”

Suddenly, watching that scene, I was filled with emotion. I thought about my answer to the ice-breaker question the day before. I saw myself as Robin Williams whispering in the boys’ ears and then I saw myself as one of the students and Williams whispering in my ear, “Carpe Diem!”

It made me think, that if I were that invisible person I described earlier whispering in everyone else’s ear, maybe I should step outside myself and whisper in my own ear, “Carpe Diem!”

As I watched, tears of regret and excitement filled my eyes — regret that I had missed seizing so many days, but tears of excitement because now I feel free to experience life on my terms (On a side note, on the cover of the journal I currently write in are printed the words “Carpe Diem.” Coincidence? Maybe, but it brings chills to my spine thinking about all of it).

What would you do if you were invisible? When you have your answer to that question, ask yourself this question: What’s preventing you from doing that now?  Carpe Diem!