Black Belt Leader: Profiles in Courage


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ? E.E. Cummings


My son Bryce is an amazing guy. He’s 34 years old and an inventor, an entrepreneur and a business visionary. He’s a partner in an urban farming company in Montreal. His business is booming and his learning curve has been quite steep. He’s not only constructing and planting hundreds of gardens, he’s also doing media interviews and educational outreach. He’s received mentoring from college professors, who like his business plan, and from successful business leaders who support him and believe in what he and his partners want to do. Basically, they want to change the way people understand their relationship with food: from growing it themselves to how it’s distributed and consumed. 


I've noticed recently while speaking with Bryce that his perspective has shifted from “the Excited Beginner” to “the Expectant Expert.” He’s putting a lot of pressure upon himself. He’s convinced that he has to succeed in a way that he’s not really ready for. One might say that Bryce has the willingness to be successful but he has not yet developed his capacity sufficiently enough to match his willingness. It takes time to develop our capacity – not a long time necessarily – but it still takes time. And sometimes our fear of not succeeding and the negative scenarios that we are apt to concoct as a consequence influence how we perceive reality; our reaction to fear can distort our vision of the present and what we actually need to do to achieve our goals, and if we are not careful, prompt us to make ill-advised decisions. We forget to check in with ourselves, to “exhale,” to stay grounded, and to appreciate how far we’ve come. “Bryce,” I told him, “you’re a beginner.” He was quiet for a few moments, and then he repeated what I had said like a new mantra. “I’m a beginner.”


By reminding himself that he is a beginner, Bryce was able to unburden himself of his self-imposed expectations and to deflate what had been inflated beyond benefit to himself or his company.