Courage means different things to different people.
Hemingway called it "grace under pressure." The writer Anais Nin said that, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Winston Churchill called it the greatest virtue "and the guarantor of all the others."
There are different types of courage, of course. There is the heroic courage American soldiers demonstrated when they spilled onto the beach at Normandy in June, 1944. Or when New York City firefighters rushed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Then there is everyday courage. The kind it takes to experiment with your own life, whether falling in love, changing careers or bearing up under difficult circumstances.
Americans talk about courage a lot. We idolize it many ways, as all free people should. But we don't always get to see it firsthand.
Today you will.
Last week, a Spiritual Wealth reader wrote to tell me about Randy Pausch, a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh.
Some of you may know his story already. In September 2006, he was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis is essentially a death sentence.
Although Pausch pursued an aggressive treatment that included major surgery and experimental chemotherapy, by August 2007 the disease had metastasized to his liver and spleen. He was told he had three months to live.
On September 18, 2007, Dr. Pausch delivered his "Last Public Lecture" at CMU, entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." I have watched the original 76-minute lecture online, and it is truly inspiring.
I realize, however, that few of you have the time right now to watch a one-hour video. So I'd like to encourage you, instead, to watch a 10-minute clip where Dr. Pausch summarizes the main points of his lecture.
The confederate colonel Robert G. Ingersoll once said, "The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart." Randy Pausch is a living testimonial.
This is powerful, moving stuff. If you don't have a lump in your throat by the end, please be sure to have someone check your pulse.
To watch the 10-minute clip, just click here.
Alexander Green has just launched Spiritual Wealth (www.spiritualwealth.com).
What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."
Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.