Samuel P.N. Cook
Nov 15, 2021
That is what I told a friend of mine the other day.
After reflecting on my answer, I was drawn back to the scariest day of my life.
The day I should have died more than once.
It was 16 January, 2008.
I was serving in the U.S. Army in the Tigris River Valley, south of Mosul.
I will spare you the details.
It’s still hard for me to write or speak about my wartime experiences.
But I will never forget everything that happened that day.
And coming out of my two tours in Iraq, I swore to myself to never take a day of this life for granted.
I thought I had scratched my itch when it comes to tempting fate.
But in a strange way, I missed being so afraid.
The thing old soldiers hate to admit, is how much they secretly love being in the fight.
It’s hard to admit to yourself and others that being in danger is addictive.
It’s not fun, and it’s terrifying at the time.
But many things that are bad for us can become addictive.
When I came back from Iraq, I was depressed.
Starting my own business was part of my journey back from those distant battlefields.
The challenge of finding new business simulated the excitement of combat.
Trying to stay alive every month - to meet payroll - was terrifying and strangely therapeutic.
It took me many years to realize that business was my halfway home from Iraq.
I have been personally obsessed with the idea of courage my whole life.
I’m not sure where it came from.
Maybe it was because I had 2 older brothers.
One of my earliest memories as a child is the sheer terror of being held down beneath both of them.
That’s probably why I went to West Point at 18 and joined the U.S. Army.
The first time I went to Iraq, I purposefully put myself on the first patrol outside the gate to see what it would be like to go on a combat patrol.
Perhaps it was my father teaching me English History with tales of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz.
Right now, I am on the second Volume of William Manchester’s priceless biography on Winston Churchill.
I believe that Winston Churchill was one of the most courageous figures in history.
There are four basic types of courage.
Physical Courage - Submitting yourself to physical danger, either in fighting, combat, or by just pushing your body to the limit in exercise.
Moral Courage - This is when you dare to do what is right even when it may not be easy or in your best interest.
Emotional Courage - This comes when you dare to face your emotions and past trauma.
Intellectual Courage - This comes when you dare to create a book, a work of art, a piece of code, or a business, and put it out there in the world for the judgement of the critics and the market.
The overriding theme in all types of courage is not what we think it is.
You don’t need to be some rough-rider who doesn’t appear afraid of anything.
In fact, that’s precisely the opposite of courage.
Anyone who isn’t afraid in combat is a sociopath, a psychopath, or both.
In her groundbreaking talk on the Power of Vulnerability, Bene Brown argues that it is the act of exposing yourself to pain, judgement, and ridicule that gives us courage.
Over the course of my life, I was always particularly obsessed with the idea of physical courage.
And I tried hard to work on my moral courage, and my intellectual courage.
But I also have come to understand only recently that I lacked emotional courage.
I have always had a hard time facing some of my own emotions and past traumas.
It wasn’t until recently with the help of a coach that I hired that I started going there.
In 2013, my little brother James passed away 2 days before his 32nd birthday.
It is only in the last few years, with the help of coaching from many of my clients I have had the privilege of also paying for coaching, facing my fears, that I began to understand the impact of my own past traumas.
Here is a link to my interview with Benoit - my coach - where I share a very personal story on my own personal development.
Last weekend we had a customer issue.
I got angry because we didn’t solve it fast enough.
So I called in my entire leadership team to let them know that effective immediately we would set up our 24 hour, 7 days a week ops center with Live Chat Support.
Anytime you need help with anything, we are here to speak to you.
This was despite the fact that we haven’t hired the people we need to start this team yet.
So I told our team that we as leaders - to set the example - would pull these shifts to figure out the process and teach the new team members as they come in.
I decided to take two consecutive night shifts myself to show the team I wasn’t afraid of doing the work myself even without sleeping for 2 days.
I was inspired by seeing Sofiia, my 20 year old Chief of Customer Success step up and volunteer to lead a new integrated team between our support and sales team.
No doubt Sofiia is afraid of the tremendous responsibility that she has taken on, but she is facing her fears with coaching from Benoit and our other advisors.
Every quarter, we assemble our entire team from all over the world in Kyiv, Ukraine for our quarterly team week.
On Friday, we will be spending an entire day focusing on our culture.
Our overriding theme for our values is simple.
And on this day, we focus on the themes around courage and the vulnerability it takes to grow.
At SanityDesk, we talk to our customers every day.
On our Max Plan (for $299 per month), we find that the biggest thing stopping our customers is their fear of failure.
It’s the story of people like Padraig Dunne that inspire me every day.
Padraig was a carpenter in Ireland, who dreamed of becoming a personal development coach.
We helped him setup his business online with SanityDesk, and it’s been a privilege working with him and other entrepreneurs like him.
Here is an interview with Padraig Dunne on his journey of facing his fears and launching his business on SanityDesk.
We know how hard it is to be out there, subjecting your idea for making the world a better place to the tender mercies of the marketplace online.
It’s amazing for me to observe how brave people can be on social media tearing down a business owner for putting up an ad promoting their services.
And every day we are passionate about helping business owners overcome their fears and have the courage to put their business out there.
This is why we have made it easier than ever to face your fears on our FREE forever starter plan.
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