The crew from ABC’s Good Morning America came by our house yesterday. They do that sometimes to see how fate has treated us and to measure our current reality against historic visits and popular expectation. It is refreshing I suppose – to think that someone still cares even after all of these years. We have done a few of these “where are they now” segments. In almost every one we’re asked to provide guidance to those currently going through The Bachelor process. What advice do we have? How can they be most successful? Our answer generally suggests a commitment to authenticity. Trista describes this as “putting yourself out there.” Essentially it means to represent yourself as honestly and candidly as possible, then hope that “you” are truly the right person for “them.” It is a risk. “Be brave” we say.

Bravery is a cornerstone principle of this blog and a value I continuously preach. It, along with unconditional kindness, is what I consider the backbone of heroic action. Yet, as I sat there next to my beautiful wife, in our comfortable home, located in a breathtaking community, talking to Good Morning America, I was hit by a frightening reality. I am not brave.

To be brave is to be courageous in the face of fear. While my life’s chosen path is one of challenge and adventure; risk and emergency response, any associated bravery is superficial – a stereotypical description representing a culture, not an individual. I am a benefeciary of those who were brave before me, of the heroes standing tall despite critics, curses and hate. Though I gain inspiration from the men in the arena, I have spent too much of my time on the sidelines – a cold and timid soul. My fears are not physical. They are emotional. I do not fear death but rather run from embarrassment, judgment and rejection. I avoid conflict and controversy, using modesty and bashfulness as masks, hiding behind their nobility as I quietly watch injustices unfold. I am not brave. I am scared – worried I’ll tarnish the image I have created of myself, for myself.

Insecurity is my adversary. As I grow older, its influence intensifies. I worry about diminishing strength and athletic ability. I vainly struggle to keep my physique and gaze with empty desperation in the mirror as my hairline continues to recede and turn grey. I spend more time with my dog than my kids and have made my wife cry from sadness and disappointment on more than one occasion. I worry about money. Professionally, despite an honorable occupation, I sometimes value salary over service. I am image conscious, selfishly driven and often critical of others for little more than a difference of opinion. I hide my beliefs for fear of the criticism I might endure. I preach potential while struggling to meet my own. I am not perfect, far from it , but I am not done either (also far from it).

So now begins my quest to heroically live the life I’ve imagined and to inspire, through my example, the ideals of bravery and kindness in others who, like me, are afraid. I will accept imperfection but not injustice. I’ll allow failure but not ignorance. My own happiness will reside alongside the happiness of others. Those I love will know, without question, that they are loved. I will stand firmly behind my beliefs yet listen attentively to the views of others. I will change that which I am empowered to change and accept that which I am not. I will be altruistic. From this point on my life will be lead with intention, guided by virtue and influenced through experience. Today is a new day – a brave new day. Good Morning America!

*Be sure to tune in to ABC’s, Good Morning America, on January 31st, to what this is all about…